Reflections on the Readings
March 1, 2015 - Year B
Second Sunday of Lent
It's Good For Us To Be Here
Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.
Abraham and Isaac worship on Mount Moriah, the mount in Jerusalem where Solomon's temple was built. Elijah and Moses are both associated with Mount Sinai, sometimes known as Mount Horeb, or the Mountain of God. All three hear the voice of God on their respective mountains. And in today's Gospel, Peter, James, and John are privileged to hear the same voice of God exclaim, "This is my beloved Son, listen to him."
I like hiking in the Smokey Mountains. The view from the top is the reward for the winding, upward, sometimes harrowing effort. For me, it's always something of a spiritual time, a sacred experience. It's as though I hear the words from the excellent glory, "It is good!" It's good being on the trails with my daughters, either, Melissa or Bethany; it's good seeing the streams caressing the ancient stones, it's good meeting people on the trail; it's good to take a deep breath of the air at the top; it's good to look on top of the trees and to imagine if for a moment there is no more war or pain in the world. And I say, "Amen."
Abraham was 75 years old when he entered into the story of redemption. Called by God to leave father and mother and all things familiar he obeyed even though he did not fully know where he was to go. (Hebrews 11:8) All he knew is that God said, "I have made you the father of many nations." And to his credit, he believed God and his promise, trusting that he gives life to the dead and calls things into existence the things that do not yet exist. (Romans 4:17) He did not weaken in faith even though his body was as good as dead in that he was about a hundred years old and Sarah was barren.
Today we see Abraham with unwavering trust in God. For he considered that God was able to raise him from the dead because he said to the men with him at the base of Moriah, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder to worship, and come again to you." (Hebrews 11:17-19)
Luke explains in his gospel that Elijah and Moses are in conversation with Jesus about his exodus that he is about to accomplish in Jerusalem. The exodus Jesus will effect is the liberation of humanity from the tyranny of sin. That is the conversation Peter, James, and John overhear. It's such a good experience that Peter exclaims how wonderful it is to be present for such an apparition. It's so good that Peter suggests that three tents be set up so that proper hospitality is offered for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.
But fullest meaning of the moment will not be fully grasped until the Son of Man is raised from the dead, something Peter, James, and John did not yet understand - the mystery and the mission of Christ, God's only Son, whom He did not spare, but handed him over for us all. To this the law and the prophets all point and on this sacred mountain the plan of redemption reaches its summit.
When our Lenten pilgrimage arrives at Good Friday we will sing again about another hill, a sacred mount, Mount Calvary, where the Son of God on an old rugged cross opens his arms for us all.
May we say every time we gaze at the old rugged cross suspended above our altars, "It's good for us to be here."
Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com