Often in life we see things and are not aware of the full meaning behind what we see. For example, when my wife, Pam came home from visiting our Grandson earlier this week she saw a mark on the patio door and could not imagine what made it or the story behind it. I knew the full story. I had noticed a squirrel feeding from the seed I had put out for the birds and wanted to get a closer look, forgetting momentarily that there was a glass door between me and a better look. The marks on the door indicated where my forehead and nose hit it.

Holy Scriptures are full of signs pointing the way to Jesus and we have an example of this in today’s first reading from Genesis . Abraham being asked to sacrifice his only son and being prepared to do so, this as a forerunner of what God was prepared to do, testing Abraham to see if a man would be prepared to do this for a God he loved and feared. Abraham passed this test.

It doesn’t say it in this shortened version of the Genesis reading, but on the way to the place of Sacrifice, Isaac asked his father where the lamb for the sacrifice was? Abraham said; probably through tear-filled eyes; that God would provide. What an example of faith for us all, can you imagine taking that walk with your only child? Through Abraham’s extraordinary faith he was rewarded with an extraordinary promise, his descendants would be as many as the stars in the heaven and of grains of sand on the shore. Another sign pointing towards Jesus; is that like Jesus; Isaac carried the wood up the hill in preparation for the sacrifice.

Today’s psalm talks about fulfilling vows to the Lord; making a thanksgiving sacrifice even when we are sorely afflicted. We repeat the words I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living. This is our aim to walk with God where there is no death, our sacrifices here on earth are our offering to God.

As Christian’s today, we do not make the type of sacrifices required by the early covenants in the Bible. For us, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. He is the sacrificial lamb, whose head knew the thorns from a bush and who was nailed to a tree for the sins of man; man whose first sin was to disobey God by taking an apple from a tree.

In our first reading we heard that God spared Isaac; the son of Abraham, in our second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans we are reminded that “God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all.” The few sacrifices we are asked to make in our lives are nothing compared to what God has done for us.

We approach Lent each year and we ponder on what we will give up as an offering in penance for our sins; we can give a few pounds to charity, or give up chocolate or alcohol or offer to pray a little bit more. Most of us will share what we plan to do with fellow Christians, and we then congratulate ourselves when we reach the end of the forty days. These are nothing compared to what God gave up for us. God the creator of everything, lowered himself to the same level as us; who He made from the dust of the earth; and then allowed some of us to nail Him to a cross. All because He loves us and wants us to love Him and everything else that He has made.

In our Gospel we hear the Word of God speaking “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” These words are spoken while Jesus is shown in Majesty; shining brighter than anything man could make. The Transfiguration of Jesus, where the Old and New Testament see Jesus’ Glory together, we have the prophets of old who led their people towards Jesus and the Apostles of the Church who would spread the Word of God to the rest of the world, so that everyone can become a descendant of Abraham.

The Oxford English Dictionary describes transfigure as meaning “to change the appearance of; especially to something nobler or more beautiful”, this is what happens to our souls when we are baptised. This is only achievable because Jesus died for us and rose from the dead to conquer sin and death. In the Gospel today it tells us that, at that time, the Apostles did not understand what rising from the dead could mean. By witnessing Jesus after the Resurrection; eating with Him, talking with Him and above all Listening to Him, they were given the grace to understand that Jesus died for us, He rose for us and He will come again for us.

Lent is a time for us to transform our relationship with God, we do this by offering back to God what we can from what He has given us. Everything we have is given to us, in trust, by God. This time of reflection, of giving alms, of penance and of prayer, is also given to us by God, we will be judged by God on how we use it. So, if you have struggled to find something meaningful this year or have started and already fallen away from what you committed to do, please do not give up! This is the enemy tempting you; telling you, you are not good enough, or it does not matter because God loves you whether you do something or not. (Yes, the devil uses God’s love to tempt us). Please do not give in to this temptation. God loves us and wants all of us to be with Him; make the time this Lent to be with God, find a way to climb the mountain of temptation to be alone with Jesus. Listen to Him, follow His words and He will transform your life.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All those who are sick, all those who care for them and all Key workers who are striving to keep us safe.
  • Stephanie Anazor and her family as Stephanie joins the Christian family through Baptism this weekend at St Bede’s.
  • For all those taking part in the Walk for Water campaign, that we all have the strength to overcome any physical ailments.
  • For those suffering from Domestic abuse in our local area that they will have the strength and courage to seek support
  • For those who do not believe in God, that this Lent and Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
  • For all those taking part in the online Alpha course, that this week they will be encouraged to develop a love of Sacred Scripture.
  • For the success of the RCIA course next Wednesday, that all those attending will gain an understanding and develop a love for the Sacraments of the Church.
  • Today the Diocese holds the Community of St Oswald’s, Burghfield Common, in prayer; this is a community which has supported me through my training for the Diaconate and continues to be very supportive of me through encouragement and contributing to the causes I hold dear; may God bless them all.

Once again, I thank those who have sponsored me on my Walk for Water Challenge in aid of Cafod. If you would like to sponsor me, please go to Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD

All donations are greatly appreciated and as always if you are unable to financially support me or the others taking part your prayers are very welcome.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 20th February 2021.

Some links to help us with Lent this week.

Sunday – On Fasting | EWTN St John Chrysostom on Fasting

Monday – mother teresa quotes on fasting | Only 4 You (wordpress.com)

Tuesday – Padre Pio Quotes on Prayer – christian catholic frases (vaticansite.com)

Wednesday – Francis of Assisi and almsgiving | friarmusings

Thursday – The Saint & the Poor | Messenger of Saint Anthony (messengersaintanthony.com)

Friday – Renewing faith, hope and love: Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2021 – Vatican News