I once went to condole with a couple that lost their only son and child in a ghastly motor accident. To recall the visit is even painful! I remember sitting there and looking at the couple cry out their hearts while battling with the right thing to tell them that could make a little sense: “God is good? Merciful? Kind? Faithful? Loving? Yes! He is all these and more but the truth that remained was that an only child of a couple (who have lost all the biological preconditions for further procreation) is gone and for ever! What I could finally offer was deep empathy and prayers.
Take a little time and think about what takes most of your time and attention! Put in another way, think about what occupies your mind from morning till night and makes you smile even when you are by yourself. That which constitutes your joy! Whatever it is must be precious and dear to you. It must be something you would not like to let go! Some people may call this treasure just as our Lord Jesus Christ would say: “where your treasure is there will your heart also be (Matt.6:21).
To give up something we are deeply connected with is one of those difficult tasks to undertake. It is difficult to let go for a while but more painful to let go forever. We may have been faced with the lost a job that we are so passionate about, it could be saying goodbye to someone we may not see again and who meant so much to us. It could be an opportunity that slips off from us suddenly. It could also be the death of a family member, friend or relation which could be very disheartening. In life, we often need to let go something in order get some other greater thing.
One man and his wife went through the harrowing experience of childlessness for many years. Though they believed that God will bless them one day, they however remained restless. God finally blessed them with a son and he became a great treasure and source of joy to them.
By the time the child was coming of age something happened. God asked the man whose name was Abraham, to take his only son called Isaac to a specified place where he would be killed and used as a victim for a sacrifice to Him (God).
Abraham did not ask God why he should do so. He simply took the child and the other materials for the sacrifice and left to Moriah; the destination for the sacrifice. He was about killing the child for the sacrifice when God sent an angel to stop him and he was given a ram to use instead of his son.
At the beginning of this reflection, we were asked to think about one thing that is so precious to us, that thing that takes our time and our attention. We ended up calling it our treasure, however we have a new name for it today “our Isaac”. Our Isaac represents those things that are of great worth to us. Those things that take foremost places in our life. Those things we believe that are so important to us that letting them go appears impossible.
Let us take a closer look at Abraham’s Isaac. Abraham and his wife sought for him for a very long time and when Abraham was a hundred years old his wife Sarah gave birth to him. Isaac was thus a blessing to his aged parents. God Himself described Isaac as the beloved of Abraham (Gen 22:2).
It is not usually an easy thing to let go our possessions generally not to mention the ones that are so precious to us. But that is what we are called upon to do this season, to let go that which is very precious to us.
In the Second Reading today (Romans 8:31-34) we are told that God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for our benefit. What this means is that God gave up what is most precious to Him. We have the confirmation of the value God placed on his Son Jesus Christ in the Gospel Reading where he said: “this is my Son the beloved…” In the context of our reflection, God gave up His “Isaac” so that we can be blessed.
Today there is a call on all of us to give up our Isaac so that we can receive something more than that Isaac. In fact our Isaac lies between us and our blessings. Often we have many Isaacs blocking our blessings.
Remember that Isaac represent all those things that stand in the gap between us and the fulfilment of God’s promises. There are so many of them coming in various forms and shapes. We have some Isaacs in form of fashion, material possession, technology, selfish desires and a good number of others.
In the Gospel Reading (Mark 9:2-10), we are shown in a practical way how we can give up our Isaac. We are told that our Lord Jesus Christ took with him three of his apostles who constitute the inner caucus: Peter, James and John (a typical expression of the trinity) and went up on a high mountain. We can recall also that Abraham took Isaac to a mountain in Moriah.
On the mountain of transfiguration, our Lord Jesus Christ gave up his normal appearance and took up another appearance. On the mountain at Moriah, Abraham gave up his son Isaac. To climb a mountain, a serious minded person must give up his load at the foot of the mountain in order to climb effectively.
The word TRANSFIGURATION simply means change of figure. Put in another way, it means giving up the present figure and obtaining another one. To experience transfiguration one needs to let go certain things at the foot of the mountain. The Lenten season is a period of mountain climbing; a time we are expected to let go those Isaacs that distract us from God. The time we are required to let go and let God to let in our blessings.
There is no better time for us to let go our Isaacs than this Lenten season. That is why we are at this time called to practice abstinence. There is productive and active correlation between abstinence and giving up our Isaacs. It is instructive then for us to be conscious of the fact that our abstinence must be based on those things that have strong grips in our lives; the Isaacs in our lives.
Our transfiguration comes after giving up our Isaacs. There will be no transfiguration unless there is a decisive letting go of the contending Isaacs in our lives. We are transfigured when we live for God and not just for ourselves. We become transfigured when we come forth and remain in God’s exciting presence and when we are able to exclaim like Peter “it is good for us to be here!”
As we move further into this season of lent, let us carefully check ourselves in order to identify those Isaacs that need to be moved from our lives. If we don’t let go our Isaacs we may not attain our transfiguration. If we don’t let go the Isaacs we may not be able to hear the voice of God calling us His beloved sons and daughters.
May we have a great Second Sunday of Lent and a blessed week ahead.
Fr. Bonnie. (firstname.lastname@example.org)