Sunday 25 February 2018

Second Sunday of Lent 2018

Second Sunday of Lent 2018 

We are now well into Lent. But we still have 4 more Sundays until Psalm Sunday. This season of waiting is also a time of hope. The threefold focus of Lent is:
How are you doing? If you are being completely honest with yourself, where are you doing well, where could you use improvement? I am struggling with fasting, and it is not one I normally have issues with, either during Lent or throughout the year. But the last week and a half has taken far more effort and focus than I need to give.

First Reading Genesis 22: 1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Responsorial Psalm 116: 10,15-19 Response 9
Second Reading Romans 8:31-35,37
Gospel Mark 9:2-10

What really struck me from the first reading is what is missing. We do not read the verses about Isaac carrying the wood for the offering. Much as we will read in a few weeks about Christ who will carry his own wooden cross. Maybe this passage is what gave Jesus the strength to pray 'If it be possible let this cup pass from me, but not my will but yours be done.'. Isaac was spared and replaced by a substitute sacrifice, and Jesus will die as our sacrifice. 

The Responsorial Psalm today is an excerpt from psalm 116. From the new Jerusalem Bible it is:
Alleluia! I am filled with love when Yahweh listens to the sound of my prayer, when he bends down to hear me, as I call. The bonds of death were all round me, the snares of Sheol held me fast; distress and anguish held me in their grip, I called on the name of Yahweh. Deliver me, Yahweh, I beg you. Yahweh is merciful and upright, our God is tenderness. Yahweh looks after the simple, when I was brought low he gave me strength. My heart, be at peace once again, for Yahweh has treated you generously. He has rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling. I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living. My trust does not fail even when I say, 'I am completely wretched.' In my terror I said, 'No human being can be relied on.' What return can I make to Yahweh for his generosity to me? shall take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of Yahweh. I shall fulfil my vows to Yahweh, witnessed by all his people. Costly in Yahweh's sight is the death of his faithful. I beg you, Yahweh! I am your servant, I am your servant and my mother was your servant; you have undone my fetters. I shall offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of Yahweh. I shall fulfil my vows to Yahweh, witnessed by all his people, in the courts of the house of Yahweh, in your very heart, Jerusalem.
The response from the lectionary is:

"I will walk before the Lord, in the Land of the living." 

But from the New Jerusalem it is:

"I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living."

This response reminds me of our call to be salt and light in the world. And like the whole Psalm we need to be thankful for our physical and our spiritual deliverance. For all the God has given us.

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