Second Sunday in Lent (Year B)
Scripture Readings*: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:22-30, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38
Once more the Lord affirmed His covenant intentions. Abraham would be the father of nations (17:1–8), but the nations would be born of Sarah, not Hagar (17:16). Abram means: “father,” while Abraham means “father of a multitude.” What faith it must have taken for the aged Abram, parent of a single child, to announce that change of name! Faith is like this. It enables us to act as if the “not yet” were “now,” in full assurance that it soon will be!
If salvation depended in any way on us, we would certainly be lost. However, since our salvation depends on God keeping His promise to those who believe, we have can be assured of His promise.
In history God’s promise, whatever that promise might be, was the object of a believer’s faith. Despite their advanced age, Abraham believed God’s promise that he and Sarah would have a child. Today, however, the basis of salvation and the object of faith are one: Jesus Christ. All God’s promises are focused in and through Him. It is faith in Jesus, and faith in Him alone, that saves today.
Peter was not happy with Jesus’ discussion concerning Christ’s pending death. Jesus’ rebuke is a summons to faith. You cannot affirm Jesus as Christ and then challenge His choices! He is either God, and we submit to Him, or He is not, and we may go our own way. When a person makes a decision to “deny”, it means that they “reject.” However, when a person has a strong personal faith in Jesus, to “deny” denotes unfaithfulness… an act of abandoning the relationship.
To deny “yourself” means to decisively reject the motives and desires prompted by our sin nature. We choose instead to follow Jesus completely. When we take daily steps of obedience we gradually become the new person that Christ died for us to become.
Today’s readings are meaningful for any of us who have made our plans and ordered our lives. I’ll get married and have children. I’ll raise a family. Be involved in my church. Serve my community. Live my life in such a way that goodness, truth, and beauty shine a light. And then we fail. Or life blindsides us with difficulty. Disappointment. Detours. We find ourselves sitting in the midst of failure and destruction, wondering how we could have failed so miserably.
But God… What comfort and strength in those words! When it looks like our dreams are dashed and our hope is helpless, we see Him. He shows up. Picks us up. Heals. Redeems. Rekindles hope. Reveals a future only possible through the miracle of faith. He gives a child to an old, barren woman. He creates a nation out of an old man. He builds a Church out of a disciple who rebukes Jesus as He’s speaking.
Finances may dwindle. Health may deteriorate. Dreams may die. Life may derail. Faith may grow faint. But God… Take comfort in the God who turns the end of our story into a beginning point for His.
Prayer for Second Sunday in Lent – God of mercy, give me a steadfast faith and heart, empowering me to hold fast to Your unchanging Word; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B