March 4, 2012 – Second Sunday of Lent
In the first reading, we hear the story of Abraham willing to sacrifice Isaac because the Lord asks him to. And then an angel intervenes telling Abraham to stop. His mere willingness showed the Lord that he is faithful.
It is hard to even imagine what Abraham and Isaac must have felt as they approached the impending sacrifice. It is gut-wrenching to even think about, and yet, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, Christ Jesus did die for us. In him, what we see prefigured in Abraham and Isaac was done. The father gave his only Son like a lamb to be slaughtered, and the Son willingly offered Himself. Sometimes we look at the crucifixion and, while we marvel at the torture Jesus endured, it is easy to think, “But He is God,” and thereby minimize His agony. But when we consider the crucifixion together with Abraham and Isaac’s story, the pain of the suffering becomes that much more real. It is important to remember that God the Father did in fact offer His only Son up to death just as Abraham almost did. It is important to remember that while Jesus is indeed God, He is also man, and as such, He experienced the pain and agony of His torturous death. And He did it all for us. In the midst of all this, it is vital to understand that the cross, while utterly torturous, was and still is necessary for our salvation. Without the cross we wouldn’t know the glory of the resurrection.
This reality applies not only to Christ’s crucifixion on Calvary, but to the many crosses we ourselves bear through pain and suffering. Life is not easy. But when we unite our sufferings with Christ’s, they too can become redemptive. They allow us to grow closer to Christ and deeper in faith as we learn to rely on His grace.
This is what life as a Christian disciple is all about.
Jesus Himself tells us “if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
It doesn’t mean that carrying the crosses – dealing with the pain and sickness, trials and tribulations – will ever be easy. But when we deny ourselves and unite our sufferings with His, we will experience the glory of the resurrection in a deeply personal way. Christ will touch our lives and change us.