04 Mar – Second Sunday of Lent
God’s Gift To Us: His Son
Abraham was prepared to give God his only son, Isaac, in sacrifice. God would do no less. ‘This is my Son, the Beloved,’ he says to us. ‘Listen to him.’
– The Sunday Missal
God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’
When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.
The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’
With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.
Whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them
I want to start off by welcoming myself back after a break of a few months from writing for Oxygen, and most definitely a warm greeting to all you faithful Oxygen subscribers out there. There have been some major changes in my personal life with regards to work and career during the past months. I believe through God’s graces and guidance, it has been pretty assuring and peaceful. There were little anxieties but I have pretty much overcome most of it. I work in the hospitality industry, we call our uniform ‘Whites’. Everyday, I love to start off my day with a clean white jacket therefore my uniform has to be bleached at the end of the work day. Writing for Oxygen again is like putting on a white jacket, refreshed and rejuvenated. I hope to bring forward my positivity, my faith, my doubts, my struggles through a reflective journey with you all. Hopefully, it remains ‘white’ in the months to come.
The Gospel today tells us of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The beauty of God in Jesus radiates in such degree that is beyond the imagination of our human minds. God revealed Himself to the three disciples and affirm that Jesus is truly the beloved Son of God. However, we can never guess God’s intentions. I may think that God chose the special three, Peter, James and John and expect them to spread the truth of Jesus, but they were warned not to share the experience. The disciples had no idea what ‘rising from the dead’ means and could only keep silent about the transfiguration. They could only make sense of it all when Jesus reappeared to them after His death. There was immense trust and obedience to God by the disciples.
In the first reading, Abraham’s obedience just show how intense and how fearful he was of God. He will give anything to God, even to sacrifice his only son, Issac. The action of Abraham sacrificing his son fore-shadows God’s plan in the time of Jesus. Instead God sent His Son to die on the cross for us. God did not replace Jesus, He sent a man of flesh and blood to die for our sins.
Can we measure up to the obedience of Abraham or the disciples? Perhaps we are only as ‘white’ as what earthly bleach could do to us. Have our faith diminished over time? Be not afraid to admit that there are times when you feel spiritually low and going to Church is not as fulfilling as it used to be. God will reveal Himself to us and we may not know it, and His intentions differ much from our humanly ideals that we are so blinded. Perhaps, just let us try to practise some obedience in the littlest manner towards God, I certainly need whiter garments of faith.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am inspired to be more obedient towards you with the likes of your disciples. I may struggle to understand your intentions for me, but grant me Your graces to never be far from You.
Thanksgiving: O Lord, thank you for picking us up when we are low. Many things will not be possible without you.