Hi everyone, it seems like I like to take a break every once in a while, but I am hoping that my schedule starts to clear up some more so that I can get back to writing!
This week is the Second Sunday of Lent. I pray that your Lenten penances are going well, for mine is a struggle (I gave up cigarettes because I am a smoker). But I think that my struggle must be nothing in comparison to the struggle that Abraham was afflicted with this week in the first reading!
The first reading for the Second Sunday is Genesis 22:1-2, 9A, 10-13, 15-18. In this we here that the Lord asks of Abraham an incredible penance, a sacrifice, for the sake of offering a worthy sacrifice to the Lord. God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac for the glory of the Lord. Now, we do not get any feedback from Abraham about his thoughts and feelings about the Lord’s commandment, but I am sure that it was not the most pleasant thoughts that were running through Abraham’s head. We all know the rest of the story, Abraham obeys and God stays his hand and then blesses him abundantly.
It is here that I would like to highlight what our Lenten sacrifice is about. Our sacrifice is about holiness! There is no other point to giving something up for Lent other than for the sanctification of our own souls. I use the example of cigarettes in my case. I took up this penance fully aware of how difficult it was going to be. It has been making my body and mind race and go through some crazy feelings, but still I go through it. Why? The only reason I can find for it is that I love the Lord and I want to give this struggle, this addiction unto Him. When we enter in Lent, we bear our hearts before the Lord. We give everything to Him, just as Abraham had chosen to give his son Isaac. Now, that isn’t to say that our Lenten penances are without their own grievances, but we must persevere through them for holiness. I like to imagine that Psalm 116 this week reflects the grumblings and emotions of Abraham as he took Isaac up to be slaughtered.
‘I am greatly afflicted.’
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.” – Psalm 116
The point to this Psalm for the readings and for my own affliction during Lent is that I still believe. I know that by offering God my smoking habit, I am dying unto self. What sacrifice is too great that it towers over the death of God’s only-begotten Son?
“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?” – Rom 8:31-32
How can I complain when God gives us everything? He even gave me my body so that I might live long and be blessed for He loves me, just as He blessed Abraham after Abraham proved his faith. In the Gospel, we hear of Jesus’s Transfiguration. The revelation of the glorified body and nature of Jesus as He is in His Father’s kingdom. This is an example of how our own bodies will be glorified at the end of times. At the very least, I can treat my body as He will treat it. That is why I struggle through giving up an addiction. That is why I chose this penance for Lent, because it will cause me to grow!
Let me leave you with this final passage:
“For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” – Romans 4:3
God bless, and happy Lent!