Sunday, February 25, 2018

HOMILY Second Sunday of Lent Feb 25, 2018 St. Austin’s

(sing) “Sons of God, hear His holy word, gather round the table of the Lord,”

          Ages ago when I was a teenager we sang this song at Mass and at retreats.  It has fallen out of liturgical favor, though I still like it.  But I was reminded of this song because our readings today have the theme of fathers and sons.   We hear of Abraham and his only son Isaac in the dramatic first reading.  St. Paul in our second reading tells us that God did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all.  And in the Gospel God declares in the voice from the cloud: “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”
          Fathers and sons are an age-old theme that touches on generativity, of living on in your progeny, of continuation of the family name, of a form of immortality in the flesh.
          In the Biblical view, which is much different than our contemporary understanding of generations and of gender, the concept of “SON” is much greater than just male.  At its essence it is NOT about gender, but rather is about continuation of the family name, about sharing in the inheritance of the family, about identity being drawn and fortified by belonging to the line of the family.  In this spiritual sense, girls too can be “sons”.   Odd but true.   Sonship is not about gender, but about relationship, about family inheritance and resemblance.
          After all, women too sang “Sons of God, hear His holy Word, gather round the table of the Lord, …” 
          Maybe we better get back to our readings.  In being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, Abraham is trusting enough to give up his future, his       
continuation in time through his descendants. 
And in being willing to do that, Abraham, ironically, becomes abundantly blessed: 
"I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did 
in not withholding from me your beloved son, 
I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless 
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; 
your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, 
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—”

          In a parallel way, St Paul tells the Romans, and now us, that God the Father “did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all…”  And the result?  An even greater explosion of blessing than what happened with Abraham.  We are looking at it right here.  We now can become sons of God!  ‘If God is for us,” Paul asks, “who can be against us?”     //
          In the Gospel God speaks from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.” 
          By listening to Jesus, not only with our ears, not only with our minds, not only with our hearts, but with our whole being, all that we are and hope to be, we take on the likeness of Jesus.  We become like Him: compassionate, honest, brave, genuine, true.  By the Sacrament of Baptism, we have been conformed, shaped anew, into the image of Jesus.  We are now truly God’s beloved children, indeed regardless of our gender, each of us is God’s beloved son. 
          This gives each of us tremendous worth, incredible value.  We are deeply and dearly loved by God the Father.  We take on the image of the Beloved Son.  We are children of God.
          With that great and enduring dignity comes responsibility, comes a duty, comes a purpose and a mission.  We are to build up, both in our hearts and in our lives and in all our surroundings, the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of compassion, of truth, and of love.  That does not usually happen in big, dramatic, spectacular ways, but usually quietly, secretly, modestly.  The works of penance that we engage in during this Lenten season are methods to assist us in doing the work of building up the Kingdom of our beloved Father.
          We are truly God’s children.  Each of us shares in the inheritance of God’s son.  Each of us is beloved. 
(sing)   “Sons of God, hear his holy Word, gather round the table of the Lord, …”
          We now gather around this table, our family meal, to be fed so that we truly might live as the beloved Sons of God.    AMEN. 

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