2nd Sunday of Lent | Year B

Posted on February 23, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

Today could be called the Sunday of the Three Mountains.

“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah,” a mountainous region. There, our First Reading says that there, “God put Abraham to the test.”

The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”1

In Verse 12, God says to Abraham: “I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” (Genesis 22:12)

Rather than losing his only son, Abraham receives him back and, in the process, the divine promise is once again given. The message is that it is our ungrudging willingness to give that leads to gaining and retaining that which is most precious.

E.g., I met a Catholic man named Lee when we were part of a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend. Lee told me that he and his son were on a father-son bonding fishing trip for a week and on Sunday, Lee left camp to drive to the nearest town to attend Sunday Mass. Lee’s grown son did not attend Mass anymore and so he stayed behind. When Lee returned to the camp after Mass, his son asked, “How was Mass?” Lee responded, “Well, son, it’s interesting that the homily and the First Reading reminded me of you—it was about Abraham and Isaac.”

“You aren’t going to sacrifice me, are you, Dad?” his son jokingly replied.

Lee said, “I already have, son, I love you and raised you, sent you to college, and have given you to the Lord.”

2. The second mountain is Mount Calvary-

St. Paul is saying that God gave us the best he could, his own Son. So, Paul asks, rhetorically, who can condemn you then if God acquitted you with his very best? Again, the answer is “no one.” Mount Calvary is the mountain our acquittal.

3. The Third Mountain is Mount Tabor-

Right after you receive Holy Communion, assuming that you are going to confession when you need to, you are on top of the mountain, we can best listen there! The Catechism says that the Eucharist is “the source and summit” of the Christian life (1324).

Return to your pew, close your eyes, and expect a word of knowledge. E.g., prior in my life I had to work at a job where there were only two of us who managed a small enterprise, and we had opposite personalities. One day after Holy Communion as I returned to my pew, I had an image that my difficult coworker was like a jump ramp that enabled me to soar and blossom, and this insight matched the idea that the Cross is the Tree of Life; that the obstacle is the way to blessings.

God has so arranged the route up Mount Tabor so that as the way becomes harder and steeper, the faith of the climber is inevitably strengthened.2

Once we are on top of the mountain of transfiguration—“The twentieth-century rabbi and theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel [1907–1972] wrote a lot about “radical amazement,” that sense of “wow” about the world… . It’s the kind of thing that people often experience in nature—at the proverbial mountaintop, when walking in the woods… it also includes things we generally don’t even think of as pleasures, like the warm soapy water on our hands as we wash dishes.”3

1.      Tom Bodett

2.      James M. Boice, Ordinary Men Called by God, 01/1998, p. 40

3.      Danya Ruttenberg, Nurture the Wow… (Flatiron Books, 2016), 56–57.

Accessed at The Center for Action and Contemplation.