Sunday, March 4, 2012

To the Heights of Moriah and Tabor

Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Romans 8:31b-34
Mark 9:2-10

"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? 
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died - or, rather, was raised - who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us." [Romans 8:31b-34]

For this Second Sunday of Lent in each year of the three year lectionary cycle, the Church yokes a different Old Testament passage referring to Abraham to a synoptic account of the Transfiguration. In Year B we are on top of Mount Moriah where Abraham obediently prepares to fulfill God's command and sacrifice his only son Isaac, the son of the promise. On both Moriah and Tabor God sheds light on His Will for our salvation in most striking ways. We really should let ourselves be dumbfounded by this all. The yoking, the juxtaposing in the light of these couple sentences from the Second Reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans is enough upon reflection and discovery to confound us more perhaps than Peter, James and John were overwhelmed by what they were witnessing.

How do we, how do I paint myself into the scene? That's really what we are called to do, I think: find our place in the action of Moriah/Tabor. We certainly have course to contemplate from close up the son of Abraham and the Son of God and to contemplate their predicament and ultimate risk facing the Will of Almighty God. We can see them both, Isaac to a lesser degree and Jesus fully so, as bearers of the promise for us who are in no way excluded or intruding, but invited into the scene.

Granted, the Church Fathers generally spoke of Moriah and Sion or Calvary in the same breath, and tradition would have them as one and the same place of sacrifice. Nonetheless, Tabor and Moriah are indeed one, however, as neither Abraham nor Peter, James and John are to be written out of the scene, out of this great teaching about God's love for us, His chosen ones, demonstrated through the sacrifice of His one and only Son. The lesson is certainly about time and eternity, about the recovery by the new Adam, at the Place of the Skull, of God's order in God's love. 

Certainly, the Second Sunday of Lent is there to strengthen us all to face the scandal of the Cross, to assure us of God's love for us in the Sacrifice of His Son. Any and every Sunday Eucharist is an experience on the heights of Moriah and Tabor; this Sunday is a special admonition never to doubt God's love. Moriah puts us back in perspective in terms not only of what be the sacrifice from creature acceptable to the Creator, but most importantly in terms of the Creator's Will to foster the creature who chooses obedience to that Will. With Tabor we pass through the veil of the flesh into a Tabernacle not made by human hands, once and for all assured of God's love beyond all telling and for all times.

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