February 26, 2024

2nd Sunday of Lent, 2/26/24

Fr. Christopher Kirchgessner

Good morning, my friends. The Word of God this morning takes us to two mountaintops. Neither of these mountain trips is for pleasure. But both are life changing.

We should stand here in amazement at the marvels that have become almost routine for us today. So, if you want to see something and hear something truly amazing, take another look at the story we heard in the first reading: the story of Abraham, given a gift of a son named Isaac long after he and his wife Sarah were resigned to never having a son.

And yet he was willing to sacrifice this precious son of his as a sign of his faith in God. If that isn’t amazing, nothing is. Yet Abraham’s faith in God pales in significance to the glories that he would receive from God. For this faithfulness, God promised that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sands on the seashore, and Abraham’s memory will live on forever and ever.

Our first trip: A promise made on a mountain because of one person’s faith. The second trip this morning is with a teacher and three students. Some 3000 years after Abraham’s mountaintop experience, the three students are in for the lesson of their lives. They travel to the top of the mountain, the place where heaven and earth meet, and they witness the glory that is promised us all.

They have seen the touch of God. They have witnessed pure holiness. We too will touch this pure holiness if we allow ourselves to be transfigured, if we allow themselves to be changed by what they’ve experienced on that mountaintop.

And yet there is a bit of a catch to their trip:  the master shows his students not just the present, but a future that will be theirs. They see their master’s face getting brighter and brighter and brighter—as ours will be. But there must be sacrifice before that can happen. They hear a booming voice that breaks out over creation and still whispers in the hearts of all believers. And that booming voice declares, “This is my beloved son. Pay attention to him. Live like he lived, practiced, practice what he preached. Be who you have been created to be.”

This practice will bring you glory. This listening will make you likewise radiant. It will make you divine. But the promise on the mountain doesn’t come cheap at all. Jesus lets them know that it’s going to be difficult: “Do not let anyone know what you have seen until I’ve been raised from the dead,” he tells them.

This glory comes from sacrifice, and not just a seasonal type of sacrifice like we’re involved in right now. We may thank the Lord that Lent is over after 40 days, after all. But that’s not enough. This Lent cannot be the only time we sacrifice. For God’s glory comes to us in sacrifice offered every single day of practicing our faith, listening to the Word of God, and living not just for ourselves, but for others.

And should we do the best we can, because then we’re promised glory. We’re promised a future that is in God. Dear friends, do we understand that we’re on a journey? Do we understand that we, like Abraham and Sarah and Isaac, that we must sacrifice ourselves is a sign of our faith in God?

If we do, then one day, whatever day that is, we will find ourselves in the place where heaven meets earth and our faces will be brilliant with the glory of God. Amen.

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