Sunday, March 08, 2009

Second Sunday of Lent

Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Rom 8:31b-34
Mk 9:2-10

Terror. Pure terror. That must have been what Isaac felt when he realized the sacrifice was him. How terrifying was it when his father bound him, placed him on the altar, raised his knife, fully prepared to kill him. What did Isaac feel when he was suddenly reprieved? He was spared by God, his father stopped from killing him, and a ram offered in his place. Did Isaac feel relief, joy, gratitude, or was the whole thing just too hard to accept? He should have been dead, but he was alive. Did he feel that in some way he had risen from the dead?
Terror. Pure terror. That must have been what Peter, James and John felt on that mountain top. Before their eyes the one they had been following changed, became dazzling, blindingly bright, hard to look at. Jesus revealed the glory that is God to them, and they were terrified. Perhaps they thought they had died and gone to heaven. When the episode ended, did they feel they had in some way been brought back from the dead? Then Jesus tells them not to tell anyone what they had witnessed until He had risen from the dead. They did keep quiet, they did not understand what risen from the dead meant.
Terror. Pure terror. Something we may feel occasionally when we realize the sacrifice should be us. When we honestly look at ourselves, our selfishness, our failures to love, we should feel terror. We understand that we do not deserve mercy, we do not deserve love, we act in a way that is often totally unlovable. But like Isaac, we are reprieved. Another stands in our place, the one who stood before Peter, James and John and was transfigured. We are saved by the death of Jesus, who dies for us. We are saved by the Christ, who rises from death, who enters new life and gives that life to us, if we are willing to see that we have, like Isaac, been reprieved. When we love as we are loved, we come to understand what risen from the dead means. We rise, and will be able to see the dazzling, blindingly bright glory that is God.

Deacon John
Second Sunday of Lent
March 8, 2009