The Power of the Resurrection

02-25-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In our scripture this weekend, we learn of the unbelievably powerful promises which are fulfilled. There are two summits involved in these experiences, one is on Mount Moriah with our beloved Abraham and the other is on Mount Tabor with our Savior Jesus. We all recall that Abraham, our father in faith, had uprooted his family and traveled across the Fertile Crescent to an unknown land. Abraham, who struggled and became overwhelmed, trudged steadily forward on the particular and singular promise that his and Sarah's children would be as numerous as the stars on clear, cool nights and as many as the sands.

Abraham and Sarah would have the child of God's promise, a son named Isaac. And now with great sorrow, Abraham understands that his beloved child Isaac is to be offered up - by Abraham himself. Mercifully, there is a very happy ending. The mysterious God whom Abraham worships and follows is not like the neighboring Canaanite gods, who demand human sacrifice. In the end, Abraham comprehends that his God asks obedience and even sacrifice, but not this kind of sacrifice. Note how Abraham's trust in God is absolute. God asks for and receives Abraham's fidelity and we know that this is all greatly rewarded in his posterity - the twelve tribes of Israel.

This first reading is set before us to increase the various layers of meaning of our Gospel passage. Our selection also brings us to a mountaintop, this time it is Mount Tabor. At this site three of Jesus' closest apostles - Peter, James, and John - are privileged to witness the dramatic vision of Jesus with Elijah and Moses. These two historic figures represent the whole of the Hebrew prophetic and patriarchal tradition. Realize that on this peak, heaven and earth meet, and also the former and new dispensation meet also. Hear God's voice and know that he speaks again of sonship. In contrast on Mount Moriah, God's words rang in Abraham's ears, reminding him that Isaac is his son, his only son and now in the Gospel the voice of God introduces Jesus as "my beloved Son." Peter hopes this happening will go on forever, not realizing this is to strengthen him for the later events of the Passion and death of Jesus.

Did you realize that Jesus loved his life as dearly as we love ours. We learn in the scriptures that he also recognized God's will and what was worth dying for. His embrace of his own death was in harmony with his embrace of God's words, "This is my beloved Son." For us, we all struggle in our lives to keep the balance between the seeming extremes of life and death in balance. Though our faith teaches us that life can come through death, we certainly resist mightily. All of us need this wondrous vision of the Transfiguration to sustain us; in truth, we need the power of the Resurrection to strengthen us. We can find no better inspiration than our Lord Jesus Christ, the beloved Son, who has shown us the way through death to life. In our struggles and private moments, the power of the Risen Christ can impel us to live our life with confidence, courage, peace of mind and also heart.