Reflection by Fr Darren Howie;

First Reading Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18;

Second Reading Romans 8:31-34;

Gospel Mark 9:2-10 





In the First Reading from this Sunday’s gospel, we heard how Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Incidentally, the Jewish scripture scholar Dennis Prager argues that after Abraham attempted to sacrifice their son Isaac, Sarah and Abraham parted ways. We know that God had no intention of allowing Abraham to go through with it. Instead, He intended to impart a profound lesson to Abraham and all his descendants: human sacrifice is not acceptable. Abraham lived among people deeply entrenched in a culture where they sacrificed their sons and daughters to please their gods and secure their future.


Why were the people who surrounded Abraham prepared to sacrifice their children to gods, to obtain the necessary rain and weather for survival?  They did it because of la ack of knowledge of the true God and a lack of faith. The Lord provided a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Do we, like St. Mary MacKillop, believe in providence? Do we, like St. Paul, believe that God turns everything to the good of those who love Him? For people today tempted to sacrifice their children, this time to the gods of convenience, career, or an easy life, Christ tells us that we find our true lives by losing it, by making a sincere gift of ourselves to another.  A false god is anything which people put before the real God. God’s injunction to rest on the Sabbath day was to free people from being slaves to other gods, so that they can discover like Abraham that God, no matter what, keeps his promises, that God is the God of life. One of the messages that God wanted to drive home is that God is the giver of life not the taker, even when things seem to have gone terribly wrong.


Jesus said, come to me all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Jesus’ crucifixion appeared to put an end to all of his promises concerning himself.  The Transfiguration gave the apostles a glimpse of the resurrected Christ who is the second person of the Blessed Trinity.  The Transfiguration was to prepare the apostles for the scandal of Our Lord’s crucifixion.  The problem of evil is how an almighty, all-powerful, and all-knowing God can allow bad things happen to good people.  Our Faith, our hope requires that we believe in God and that he can turn everything unto the good of those who love him. Hence the Transfiguration and Our Lord’s resurrection.


The Transfiguration is a reminder, that when things are going poorly, to remember that God is truly the God of life, the same person who said to Abraham “Do not harm him.”   The Transfiguration was to give hope for the apostles when they were scandalized and shocked by Our Lord’s crucifixion.  The Beatitudes are also about people who suffer, and Jesus says for those who suffer unjustly and have faith in him, to rejoice because their reward will be great in heaven.  The Beatitudes like the Transfiguration are designed to make us look forward in hope.  Countless Christians have known that by uniting their unjust experience to Christ and his sufferings, that they have experienced his presence and reassurance that, in the end, everything will turn out for the best.  In a sense this is their own Abraham test.  If someone can only conceive of life as being in this world then God is a failure but if their hearts and minds can be opened to realize that God really is God, then they can perceive that God can set things right in the next life and that changes everything.