Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle B

 

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

 

Faith in God and Faith in Christ.

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All reply:        Amen

 

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All reply:        Blessed be God for ever

 

Leader:          As we continue to celebrate Lent, we keep the goal of our journey before us. The gospel of the transfiguration is read on this Sunday of Lent each year, to remind us to hold firm to a vision of glory, even on dark days. Easter will follow this season of penance, just as freedom will eventually replace this tough time of lockdown. Hope keeps us going.

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Genesis 22:1-2.9a.10-13.15-18

 

Introduction to the reading: Events in today’s reading took place approximately 1800 years before Christ.  In that pagan culture, child sacrifice was common.  That’s why Abraham believed God wanted him to sacrifice his only son Isaac.  Later generations constantly looked back to this event as an example of Abraham’s great faith.

 

A reading from the Book of Genesis

In those days:
God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”

And he said, “Here am I.”

He said, “Take your son, your only begotten son Isaac,
whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah,
and offer him there as a burnt offering
upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order,
Then Abraham put forth his hand
and took the knife to slay his son.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven,
and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

And he said, “Here am I.”

He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now, I know that you fear God,
seeing you have not withheld your son,
your only-begotten son, from me.”

And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked,
and behold, behind him was a ram,
caught in a thicket by his horns;
and Abraham went and took the ram,
and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son

And the angel of the Lord
called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said,
“By myself I have sworn, says the Lord,
because you have done this,
and have not withheld your son, your only begotten son,
I will indeed bless you,
and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven
and as the sand which is on the seashore.
And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies,
and by your descendants
shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves,
because you have obeyed my voice.”

The word of the Lord.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116:10 & 15.16-17.18-19 (R. 9)

 

Let us pray the Responsorial Psalm.

 

R/. I will walk in the presence of the Lord
in the land of the living.

I trusted, even when I said,
“I am sorely afflicted.”
How precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.

Your servant, Lord, your servant am I,
the son of your handmaid;
you have loosened my bonds.
A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
I will call on the name of the Lord.

My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.

R/. I will walk in the presence of the Lord
in the land of the living.

 

Second reading: Romans 8:31b-34

Introduction to the reading: Today’s reading is part of a hymn that celebrates God’s love and which concludes the eighth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  In our first reading, we heard how God spared Abraham’s only son; in this passage we will hear how, out of love for us, God did not spare his only son.

 

A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans.

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all,
will he not also give us all things with him?
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?
It is God who justifies; who is to condemn?
Is it Christ Jesus, who died,
yes, who was raised from the dead,
who is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us?

The word of the Lord.

 

Glory and praise to you, O Christ
From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard: this is my beloved Son, hear him.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ

 

Gospel: Mark 9:2-10

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

At that time:
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves;
and he was transfigured before them,
and his garments became glistening, intensely white,
as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses;
and they were talking to Jesus.
And Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here;
let us make three booths,
one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
For he did not know what to say,
for they were exceedingly afraid.

And a cloud overshadowed them,
and a voice came out of the cloud,
“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
And suddenly looking around
they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain,
he charged them to tell no one what they had seen,
until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.
So, they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what the rising from the dead meant.

 

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily

One day a husband wanted to test his wife’s hearing. He stood some distance behind her and said, “Honey, can you hear me?” Having received no answer, he moved closer and again whispered, “Honey, can you hear me?” Again, having received no answer he moved right up behind her and softly said, “Honey can you hear me?” She replied, “For the third time, yes!”

Sometimes this is how  we communicate God. We constantly check to see if God is listening, hoping that God will respond to our needs. In reality, God hears us, but God has asked us to listen to Him as well. Lent is a listening time for each of us. When we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. At the transfiguration described in today’s Gospel the three apostles hear the word of God from the cloud,

“This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

We want to listen to God. We want to be in a relationship with a merciful God, a God who is love.

And then we read the first reading from book of Genesis.

For parents and the rest of us for that matter, it is a horror story. God asks a father to offer his only son in sacrifice – to kill his only son. The opening line sets the grim scene: “God tested  Abraham.” Even though God did not really want Abraham to kill his son – it was a “test” – still the story sends chills down our spines. What kind of God would ask a parent to do such a thing? And, is this the God I want to worship and give my life to? If so, what kind of sacrifice will be asked of me? We look for possible explanations for this stark story.

Scripture scholars suggest that the story is a rejection of the Canaanite practice of human sacrifice.

For their part, faithful Jews have said that God already knew the fidelity of Abraham and was giving him an opportunity to express his potential for goodness and devotion. If Abraham did kill his son Isaac he would have given up all hope for his future. After all, God had promised that he would be the father of descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:1- 6). Or, to put it another way, if Abraham killed his son, his hope for the future would be completely in God’s hands.

Jews call this story the “binding of Isaac.” They suggest it is a metaphor for all the suffering Jews have had to endure because of their faith in God and observance of the Law.

Christians see Isaac’s obedience to his father Abraham as a reflection of Jesus’ willingness to accept death for our salvation.

When Paul was writing to the Romans, he emphasised God’s generosity. He writes that the death of Jesus is a sign of how far God would go to prove God’s love for us. God does not hold for back for us because we also are  precious to God.

The Transfiguration shines further light on Jesus and his relationship to the Father. Jesus is uniquely God’s son. He died on the cross not at God’s hands, but at the hands of sinful people. Jesus embodied God’s love and his death revealed just how far God would go to show us that love. He was executed by crucifixion because he was faithful and obedient to the mission God gave him. He would not stop proclaiming God’s love for sinners and outcasts, even at the cost of his life. Jesus’ death on the cross showed the hold sin has on the world, that it would kill a totally innocent man who preached God’s love in words and actions.

God raised the Son from death to show us that love is stronger than sin and death.

A voice from the cloud directs the disciples, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Listen to what? What Jesus had already told them and would repeat: that he would suffer much and anyone willing to follow him must accept suffering in his name. Today we want to follow and stay close to a master whose life was confirmed by powerful signs and by a heavenly voice.

But on the way down the mountain the one who shone before them told them not to tell others about their experience until he rose from the dead.

The light the apostles experienced on the mountain gave them a glimpse of what the resurrection would be like. Peter, who often speaks for the others, did not get it. But the light and then the resurrection would enable the disciples to have hope, as they too would take up the cross to follow their master. But two steps lay ahead: first Jesus was going to suffer and die and then he would rise from the dead.

Peter James and John would share in the glory of the mountain; but they first would experience suffering and then they would come to have a new, transfigured life for themselves.

Because of the resurrection we, the followers of Jesus, have hope, sometimes impossible-seeming hope in God’s fierce and sacrificial love for us.

God asks us to do what God has done for us, offer ourselves in trust, despite any current trials we may be enduring that try to draw us away from our hope in God. Lent invites us again to surrender to God’s love, as Abraham was willing to do’

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus took Peter, James and John,
and led them up a high mountain, apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them….

Reflection:

Today’s gospel presents a summary of the Christian life. The mountain experience is what we are doing today as we gather for worship and seek nourishment. While the valley symbolizes where we go after today’s celebration to live out our Christian vocation. The valley is the place of holiness where we take up the cross to follow Jesus in service to others.

So we ask ourselves: 

  • Have you ever had an experience that changed your outlook on life for the good?
  • Did you see God’s hand in that experience?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 

Leader:          Having heard the Father of Jesus tell the disciples to “listen to him”, we present our needs to the same Father, in the name of his beloved Son to whom we listen.

 

Reader:

We pray for the Church: (pause) that our truest selves, beloved daughters and sons of God, may be revealed more and more through our Lenten observances.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for openness: (pause) that we may be attentive to God’s voice and never let the blare of busyness, ambition, nor consumerism drown out God’s word to us.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who share in the sufferings of Christ;  (pause) for those who are persecuted for their faith; for those in our community who suffer from ailments of any kind.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all with the Covid virus: (pause) that God will heal them, give strength to their caregivers, and guide public health officials in promoting safe practices and effective vaccine distribution.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time, especially for Dalia Tiziana Rota, deceased members of Teixeira and Wotherspoon families, Anna Gostkowska, Piet and Kobus Dreyer, and Patrick O’Brien.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for Desiree Swanepoel and Graham Turner who died during the week.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

 

And let perpetual light shine on them.

May they rest in peace.  Amen

 

Leader:          Let us pray together our prayer for Lent:

 

GOD, HEAVENLY FATHER,
look upon us and hear our prayers during this Season of Lent.
By the good works You inspire,
help us to be renewed in spirit.
Without You we can do nothing.
By Your Spirit help us to know what is right
and to be eager in doing Your will.
Keep us from sin,
and help us live by Your commandment of love.
God of love, bring us back to You.
Send Your Spirit to make us strong in faith
and active in good works.
Open our hearts to Your love,
and prepare us for the coming feast of the Resurrection of Jesus.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

 

 

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:         

Ever-faithful God,

you were well pleased with Abraham’s obedience

and you accepted the sacrifice of your Son,

who gave himself up for the sake of us all.

Train us by Christ’s teaching

and school us in his obedience,

that, as we walk his way of sacrifice,

we may come to share in your glory.

We ask this through Christ, our deliverance and hope,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Blessing

 

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

 

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:                  Amen.

 

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