Letting go of God's gifts
A reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent, Year B
by Fr. Peter Skudra
Dear friends, warm greetings from Latvia! I am happy and privileged to share the Word of God with you for this Second Sunday of Lent.
We have just entered this sacred time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In prayer we meet God who loves us, with fasting we respond to God’s self-sacrificial love towards us and get rid of what would be any obstacles in our relationship with Him, and giving alms helps us to see the needs of other people and serve God through serving our fellow people.
This Sunday we read fragments from Holy Scripture that all talk about the only son. The first reading from Genesis tells us about Abraham, who is invited to sacrifice his only son, the son he loves very much; in the Gospel we read about the Transfiguration, in which God’s voice affirms Jesus as His Beloved Son, and the second reading from the Letter to the Romans talks about God's Son who was given up for us.
We all might know the story of Abraham well. How important Isaac was for him! He waited so long for God's promise to be fulfilled, for his only begotten son. It might seem scandalizing that God, who promised to give a son, finally gives it to these elderly parents and then asks them to sacrifice him. I'm sure most of us would feel angry and plead to God: WHY?!
I am always so amazed by Abraham’s faith. When God tells him to leave his land (Genesis 12) in his old age, he does not hesitate; he goes out not even knowing where to go. When God tells him to sacrifice his son, this dearest of God’s gifts, he does not question God. He trusts that God is faithful to his promises and does not hesitate to obey whatever God demands of him, even if it seems absurd and crazy.
Self-sacrifice of Isaac
We can also look at Isaac. Hebrew scholars say that Isaac was already an adult when these events took place. So it means that he was a strong man, stronger than his old father (he is also the one carrying wood for the fire). We can conclude that Isaac also is ready to give up his life for God. He becomes the symbol of Christ's self-sacrificial obedience to the Father.
We see how both Abraham and Isaac are invited to participate in God’s self-sacrificial love. God is ready to give everything for His people. Even His own son. And these heroes from the Old Testament show their response to God’s love with their readiness to give up everything for God.
This story, in my opinion, shows us that God wants to test Abraham. He tested Abraham's faith and trust before giving him the son he wanted so much. Now that his prayer has been fulfilled, God wants to show us that Abraham is still faithful to God and is not attached to the gift he has received. Even if the gift is so precious. I invite you, dear friend, to consider: What is God asking you to give up? There are probably good things in your life which are God’s gifts but which you have become too attached to. What might they be? Maybe you have placed these gifts from God higher than God himself. Are you ready to give them back to God? Are you ready to lose them? Are you thankful to God for them? In this time of Lent, when we are invited to fast, it is a great opportunity to reflect on our life and to see: What are we too attached to?
In the second reading, Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He gave His Son for us!” It is such a marvelous mystery that God is Love, and He loves so much that He is ready to give up everything for those He loves, even His own Son! Reflect in your prayer: What does this mean to you? What does it mean that God is so in love with you that He spares nothing for you! And if God is ready to give for you what is dearest to Him, do you really lack anything? Is it possible that He would forget about you?
Today the only and beloved son might be a symbol for what is most precious and dear to us. If God is ready to give up what is dearest to Him for you, are you ready to do the same in return?
The readings for the Second Sunday of Lent, Year B, are
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Romans 8:31b-35, 37
Fr. Peter Skudra is a priest of the Diocese of Riga, Latvia. Born into a Catholic family and the oldest of four children, he was ordained in the summer of 2014. He is currently the director of Radio Maria Latvia and a chaplain for youth work in the Diocese of Riga.