THEME: JESUS, THE NEW ISAAC
READINGS: Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13/ Romans 8:31-34/ Mark 9:2-10
2nd Sunday of Lent
Today, let us reflect on Jesus, as the New Isaac, whom the Father offered on Mount Calvary.
Let us begin by considering the backgrounds of today’s readings:
FIRST READING: Genesis 22: Gold, when tested in fire shows its real value. Similarly God put Abraham’s faith to test and his faith came out shining brighter. God’s test was: ‘Abraham offer me your only legitimate son Isaac whom you love so much’; and Abraham passed the test and he was rewarded abundantly and eternally.
SECOND READING: If God has been able to offer us his only Son, Jesus Christ, then there is nothing too big to offer us (St. Paul).
GOSPEL READING: A week earlier to the transfiguration, Jesus had told his disciples of his suffering, death and resurrection. The suffering and death were too much for his disciples to take in so much so that the resurrection he mentioned did not register in them. So now, a week later, Jesus takes the ‘top’ leadership of the disciples (Peter, James and John) up a mountain for an out-of-this-world experience that would confirm: 1) that the suffering, death and resurrection fulfill the Law (Moses) and Prophets (Elijah). 2) That the suffering, death and resurrection are according to the Father’s will. Thus, the Father’s voice said: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him’; and 3) that the glory of the resurrection is beyond anything this earth can offer.
Beloved, if Jesus fulfills the Law and Prophets (as indicated by Moses and Elijah fading away leaving Jesus alone in the transfiguration), it means that it is in Jesus alone that we have the full meaning of the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament (today’s first reading), a father called Abraham (meaning ‘father of nations’) was about to offer his beloved and legitimate son, Isaac. This was to be a foreshadow of what God, who as Creator and the real Father of all nations, would do two thousand years later by offering the new Isaac, Jesus Christ, on the Cross of Calvary. Thus, the second reading says: ‘God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all’ (Rom. 8:32).
The name ‘Isaac’ means laughter (Gen. 17:17; 18:12). It is actually in Jesus Christ, the new Isaac that God gives us the true laughter – joy beyond our imagination. This joy come from experiencing an everlasting and indescribable glory in whose presence the glory of the transfiguration is a mere ‘comedy’. Beloved, one thing I am certain about is: what God offers us in Christ Jesus is beyond our imagination. St. Paul expresses it this way: ‘Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it dawned on the mind [of man] what God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Cor. 2:9).
Let us now look at some similarities between the Old Isaac and New Isaac, noting that Jesus, the new Isaac exceedingly supersedes the old Isaac – for the real person far supersedes his shadow in value.
|OLD ISAAC||NEW ISAAC|
|1. The beloved and only legitimate son of father Abraham.
2. Only Son of mother Sarah.
3. Loved by his parents dearly.
4. Obedient and submissive to father Abraham (e.g. did not resist being sacrificed).
5. Placed his full confidence in father Abraham.
6. Trusted in the God of his father.
7. Didn’t know God’s complete plan (e.g. that God was putting Abraham to test).
8. The child through whom God’s promise to Abraham is fulfilled.
9. Laid on the pile of wood
10. Literally died and came back to life after three days.
|1. The beloved and only Begotten Son of the Heavenly Father.
2. Only Son of the Mother Mary.
3. Loved by his parents most dearly
4. Most obedient and submissive to Heavenly Father (He said: ‘Doing my Father’s will is my food’; and he prayed: ‘Father, not my will, but your will be done’).
5. Fully trusts in his Father.
6. Trusts in God who is His Father; sees Him face to face.
7. Knew every plan of His Father even before He came to this earth.
8. More than old Isaac, Jesus is the Son of the new promise of salvation.
9. Lay on the wood of the cross to save others.
10. Actually died and came back in three days.
Beloved just as through the old Isaac, the blessings God gave Abraham were to reach many peoples, so through Jesus Christ, the new Isaac, countless peoples and generations are receiving blessings.
What is more, Jesus is not a mere channel or man of God through whom we receive God’s blessings, he is the very blessing of God the Father to us, to all who believed, to all who believe, and to all who will later believe: for only in the name of Jesus can one be saved (cf. Acts 4:12)!
Through the old Isaac, Abraham’s offspring were to enjoy the Promised Land; whereas through Jesus (the new Isaac) we enjoy, a better Promised Land – heaven itself.
Beloved, St. Paul (in the second reading) says that if God has given us his only Son, there is nothing he cannot provide us. So, beloved let us stir up our faith and pray to him for our needs, for with him nothing is impossible!
Again, St. Paul (in the second reading) says that no one can accuse us before God because his Son has died for us. And for that very reason, the Father will not condemn us. So however far we have gone astray from God, let us return and confess to him, to set our hearts, souls and conscience free.
Furthermore, St. Paul (in the second reading) says, Jesus did not ‘only die for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us’! What more can any other god or spirit offer? Certainly, we can’t quantify or reckon the blessings God gives us in Christ Jesus, the new Isaac. Just pause for a moment and think for a while about the fact that Jesus is right now seated next to the Father in heaven, pleading for our forgiveness and soliciting for our salvation and requesting for some earthly blessings as well. Indeed, we are assured that he will continue to do this until we meet him in glory.
Finally, beloved, ‘if God is on our side [in Christ Jesus] who can be against us?’ No one, I repeat, no one can be against us. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis