I always feel sorry for preachers on this Cycle B second Sunday of Lent, because the first Hebrew Scripture reading is the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. It’s a story that makes God look bad (why would God ask such a thing? Is God a tester?) and Abraham look worse (why would a father sacrifice his son even for God?). The rabbis around the time of Jesus had a tough time finding the lessons in this story too! Some interpreted Isaac as being a willing victim, but that does not help much. For early Christians, the words of God commending Abraham held meaning: “because you acted … in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly….” “Beloved son” is also in the transfiguration Gospel today. The apostles who witness Jesus’ transfigured glory hear a voice say: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” And that divine voice had also been heard when Jesus came out of the Jordan waters at his baptism: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Beloved. Because Jesus was willing to be a victim of the violence that is in us humans, we have been made blood brothers and sisters of Christ. And thus we are called children of God, Paul kept insisting, beloved of God. What a great affirmation for us, to be not only children of God but beloved ones! It does not explain the difficult Isaac story, but it helps us see the abundant blessing bestowed on us by Jesus’ sacrifice.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia