Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15-19
Mark 9:2-10 (see also "Binding Isaac, Crucifying Jesus")
The Lenten season continues with another story of testing. Last Sunday, we heard the trial of Jesus in the desert. In this week's First Reading, we hear of how Abraham was put to the test.
The Church has always read this story as a sign of God's love for the world in giving His only begotten son.
In today's Epistle, Paul uses exact words drawn from this story to describe how God, like Abraham, did not withhold His only Son, but handed Him over for us on the cross (see Romans 8:32; Genesis 22:12,16).
In the Gospel today, too, we hear another echo. Jesus is called God's "beloved Son" - as Isaac is described as Abraham's beloved firstborn son.
These readings are given to us in Lent to reveal Christ's identity and to strengthen us in the face of our afflictions.
Jesus is shown to be the true son that Abraham rejoiced to see (see Matthew 1:1; John 8:56). In His transfiguration, He is revealed to be the "prophet like Moses" foretold by God - raised from among their own kinsmen, speaking with God's own authority (see Deuteronomy 18:15,19).
Like Moses, He climbs the mountain with three named friends and beholds God's glory in a cloud (see Exodus 24:1,9,15). He is the one prophesied to come after Elijah's return (see Sirach 48:9-10; Malachi 3:1,23-24).
And, as He discloses to the apostles, He is the Son of Man sent to suffer and die for our sins (see Isaiah 53:3).
As we sing in today's Psalm, Jesus believed in the face of His afflictions, and God loosed Him from the bonds of death (see Psalm 116:3).
His rising should give us the courage to face our trials, to offer ourselves totally to the Father - as He did, as Abraham and Isaac did.
Freed from death by His death, we come to this Mass to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and to renew our vows - as His servants and faithful ones.