March 01, 2015 - 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Did you give up something up for Lent this year? For so many of us Catholics, giving up something is part and parcel of Lent.
For some, Lent is forty days of sacrifice: doing without chocolate or candy, going without coffee or cigarettes, turning off the TV, giving up alcohol.
For others, Lenten sacrifice may be giving up gossip or not cussing or not complaining. Some people may have decided to go all out and give up a large sum of money to charity.
Some folks have even given up on giving up, choosing instead to try to do something positive, like spending more time in prayer or taking better care of one’s health through proper diet and exercise.
Have you ever stopped to consider why we make these sacrifices? The word sacrifice comes from the same root as the word sacred. Our sacrifices are supposed to make us holy.
Ancient sacrifice, like the one we see in the first reading, involved offering some kind of gift. And in the ancient world the gift was alive.
Life was understood to reside in the blood. Blood was considered the most precious thing. So it was precisely what was offered to God.
We cringe at the thought. We are appalled by the story of Abraham and Isaac. But we forget the storyteller lets us in on a secret from the outset:
It is a test!!
God put Abraham to the test. “Abraham. Abraham.” “Here I am!” Abraham responds to God’s call. He is ready. He is willing.
Tested to the limit, Abraham’s trust in God is so great, that he is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Most of us look at this and wonder why an all-loving, all-powerful God would put anyone to such a test. It’s about discovering what is really in Abraham’s heart.
And when we read the gospel we discover the parallel. We have two stories of loving fathers.
What God asks of Abraham, God is willing to do. God is willing to sacrifice his own son for us.
The early church saw Jesus’ death as the ultimate sacrifice. In this ultimate sacrifice it is God who does the giving.
Our every Eucharist contains this sacrifice, this transfiguration. The beloved son is sacrificed for us. Jesus’ body is broken. Jesus’ blood poured out that we might live.
Simple gifts are transformed into Jesus’ body and blood, soul and divinity.
This weekend we see Abraham tested. Abraham trusts God. Last weekend we saw Jesus tested in the wilderness, torn in a struggle between good and evil.
God did not withhold his one son, but gave him up to death. God sacrifices the greatest treasure, his only son, for us. What are we sacrificing for God?
Our answer is important because Abraham and Jesus aren’t the only ones being tested this Lent. So are we! Lent is rightly considered a time of testing.
If you sacrifice during these forty days of Lent, perhaps God might touch your heart and your life might be changed forever.
“Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!”
What do you say when the Lord God calls your name?