2nd Sunday of Lent

On this second Sunday of Lent we once again have the Gospel of Mark reveal to us the identity of Jesus as the Messiah, as the Son of God born as man. In these Sundays of Lent we will have Mark proclaim to us repeatedly the divine identity of Jesus. Mark is telling us clearly who Jesus is.

When you introduce yourself to someone, what do you say? How do you present yourself? For most of us the very first thing we do is to present our name. When you think about your first and last name it says something your identity. It says a lot about who you are. For instance, your last name shows your relationship to the world. It shows what part of the world your family originally comes from. You may have an Italian or Irish or German or Spanish last name. It may even say the name of a particular ancestor. You could be McDonald or Johnson. That means that at some point your family descended from Donald or from John. Your last name could also tell us the profession or trade of your family. You could be named Smith or Miller. That certainly tells us what was the trade of your family that determined their name.

Names show relationship to place or occupation at some point in our family history. Even now when we introduce ourselves after presenting our names we most often then say what we do. After we give the person our name they typically then ask us, “what do you do?”

Today let us think about our identity in terms of relationship beyond place or profession. Let us think about our identity in terms of relationship with others. There are some relationships that are so powerful they forever form our identity and become a part of us. Being a brother or sister is forever a part of us. Being a husband or wife is forever a part of us. Being a parent or grandparent is forever part of us. These relationships shape who we are

Now think in terms of your relationship with God. From the moment you were conceived, God designed for you to continue to grow and develop into the person you are today. If you are baptized then you also are in a relationship with God as one who follows Jesus the Christ. This relationship powerfully forms who we are. As Christians, we are called to allow The Spirit of Christ to guide and give direction to our sense of self. To say it very plainly, our goal is this – to be in accord with Christ.

In today’s first reading we are presented with Abraham and his identity. For the ancient Jews they had a concept that they continued to exist through their male children. So when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac it was more than just giving up his only son. It was giving up his entire identity as one who would live on. This may seem a very strange thing for us to understand. It was an opportunity for Abraham to show that he was fully committed to God and to basing his identity on his relationship with God. Of course God would never want us to sacrifice our children. This was much more than that. It was to see if Abraham was basing his identity on his relationship with God or on his own earthly family.

In today’s Gospel of Mark, we have the Transfiguration. of Jesus. Peter, James, and John are given a glimpse into the true divine identity of Jesus as God. Jesus reveals His inner most being as God to His closest friends.

So as we hear in today’s Scripture, it really does lead us to ask the question – Do we allow our relationship with God to define our identity? More than our family, more than our place of birth, more than our profession, more than where we live, does the fact that we belong to God (and especially to Christ) have the greatest impact on how we think and speak and act? I think the honest answer is that it varies. Sometimes any one of us is greatly aware and impacted by our relationship with Jesus. At other times it may be a little bit more removed from our daily living.

This Lent the Gospel of Mark calls us to renew our identity as those who follow Christ. It is as if Mark is constantly saying “this is who Jesus is” – now “Who is Jesus to you?”

As we move on our spiritual journey of these 40 days we renew our identity and sense of self as those who follow Jesus Christ. As we move into March tomorrow, we are very aware of St. Patrick’s Day being celebrated in just over two weeks. It goes very well with the journey of Lent. Saint Patrick had a wonderful prayer that includes these words, “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left Christ when I lay down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”

This Lent let us follow the good example of Saint Mark and Saint Patrick. Let us live fully our relationship with God. Let us be fully aware and fully alive in Christ – let your relationship with God make you who you are.

First Reading
Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

The sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith.

A reading from the Book of Genesis

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he replied.
Then God said:
   “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
   and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
   on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
   Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
   “Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
   since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
   he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
   and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
   “I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
   that because you acted as you did
   in not withholding from me your beloved son,
   I will bless you abundantly
   and make your descendants as countless
   as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
   your descendants shall take possession
   of the gates of their enemies,
   and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—
   all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19

R. :

R. (116:9) I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

I believed, even when I said,
   “I am greatly afflicted.”
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
   is the death of his faithful ones.

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

O LORD, I am your servant;
   I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
   you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
   and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

My vows to the LORD I will pay
   in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD,
   in your midst, O Jerusalem.

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Second Reading
Rom 8:31b-34

God did not spare his own Son.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
   but handed him over for us all,
   how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
   It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?
Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised—
   who also is at the right hand of God,
   who indeed intercedes for us.

Gospel Acclamation
cf. Mt 17:5

From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.

Mk 9:2-10

This is my beloved Son.

croce_vangelo.pngA reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
   and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
   and his clothes became dazzling white,
   such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
   and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
   “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
   one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
   from the cloud came a voice,
   “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
   but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
   he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
   except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
   questioning what rising from the dead meant.

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

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