God’s love is worthy of sacrifice


Reflection on Mass readings for Feb. 25 (2nd Sunday of Lent)


Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19

Romans 8:31b-34

Mark 9:2-10


Lent and sacrifice: two words that don’t always have very positive connotations. I admit that as a child, my heart would sink as I saw Ash Wednesday looming upon our kitchen calendar. I knew that beginning on that day, I would have to “sacrifice” or “give up something” for the next 40 days. And, frankly, I didn’t want to.

With my persistent sweet tooth, the most fitting sacrifice would inevitably be refraining from Reese’s chocolate, cookies, or the chocolate cake that brought delight to my palate.

As a child, forty days seemed like a very long time. What I was later to learn – and what my mother would continually try to teach me as this penitential season progressed – was that these small sacrifices were a way to come closer to Jesus, a means to concretely show love for the God who gave himself to me out of love.

This is the simple – yet profound – meaning behind the idea of sacrifice, and this is the theme the Church presents to us in her readings for the Second Sunday of Lent.

A supreme model for the notion of sacrifice is given in the first reading from the book of Genesis. After years of waiting on God’s promise, Abraham is blessed with an only son, and then God mysteriously asks him to sacrifice this same son. Abraham unhesitatingly obeys the Lord’s command and prepares to sacrifice his beloved Isaac to the Lord.

In this obedient action, the faithful heart of Abraham is revealed – his love for the Lord compels him to make a return in love to the Lord. This can be the only motive that would move Abraham to such a difficult decision regarding this son who is so precious and beloved to him.

Indeed, the point of sacrifice is that it is an offering of something precious to God; the dictionary even adds that it is the “destruction or surrender of something for something else.”

Abraham’s willingness to give to God what is most precious to him is noted by the Lord and “credited to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3). The Lord stays Abraham’s hand. He recognizes the depth of Abraham’s love that has been tested through a most heart-wrenching trial and is pleased by the generosity of this “father of faith” whom he will bless a hundredfold.

As we begin our Lenten journey, let’s consider this truth about sacrifice. It is possible to give up something good because we know there is Someone who is even better. It is worth giving our all to that Someone, Jesus Christ, because he has given all for us. St. Paul’s letter to the Romans reminds us of this fact, saying that God, “who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all,” (Rom 8:32) is the reason we make sacrifices.

In taking on our humanity, the Lord Jesus gave himself completely and utterly for us. His self-offering is the motive that elicits our small sacrifices and mortifications during Lent as we try to make a return in love for the love that has been bestowed upon us so freely. Sacrifice is, as the dictionary states, a surrender of something for something else, and this “something else” is a deepening relationship with the Lord Jesus.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday leaves us with a beautiful and fitting image to end our reflection on the purpose of sacrifice. St. Mark recounts the episode of the Transfiguration of Jesus. After taking his three beloved disciples to the top of the mountain, Jesus is made radiant in appearance. Peter, overcome by the glory he beholds, exclaims, “It is good that we are here!” (Mk 9:5).

These same words should be ours during this Lenten season. It is good to give up those things that are good in order to come closer to the radiant presence of the Lord. Jesus’ transfigured appearance reminds us that at the end of each sacrifice that is offered simply and in love, there is a glorious resurrection, just as there was at the end of Jesus’ own ultimate sacrifice on the cross. The sacrifice prepares a future in which the rejoicing in the Lord’s sweet presence will be even more wonderful because it will never end. And that truth is sweeter than any candy or treat!


Sister Sharon Rose grew up in Sauk Centre, MN, and entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in 2005. She currently teaches 2nd grade at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Newport News, and has the joy of being auntie to nine nieces and nephews.


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