On the Second Sunday of Lent
Reflection by Theoloscience
Abraham is put to the test by God: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you" (Gen 22:2). Now, Imagine God asking you to sacrifice your only son? What would you do? Well relax, maybe, and most likely, that will never happen. However, it is God’s desire that you and me offer him sacrifices. In the biblical sense sacrifice means “to make something sacred or holy”. A sacrifice is intended to offer or dedicate something or someone to God.
For example, the act of self-giving for God, is the sacrifice of the self for God. And that means that some people are consecrated or dedicated to God.
When we sacrifice time, talent, and other resources for God, we are cooperating with him in the expansion of his kingdom and in his plan of salvation. All sacrifices made for God are acts of compassion and mercy.
The present is the time to ask myself: What can I sacrifice? Or, what can I offer to God with all my heart?
God the Father sacrificed his only Son on the cross to save us from sin and death: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). There we have it. If God gave his Son for me, what am I willing to offer to God? Here is another question: Is salvation a priority for me? Imagine how much better this world would be if I would make better sacrifices?
I might be asking: If salvation is the most serious thing for me, what must I do then? The answer is given to us by God the Father in the Gospel of this second Sunday of Lent: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mk 9:7). Knowing this will lead me to ask more questions. For example, am I willing to sacrifice more time to listen to God’s only Son? The tension is now between my knowing this and my actual doing it. I would need to be proactive. Whether I do sacrifice much or little, at the end of my life, I will say only one of two things: “I did my best.” Or, “I could have done more.” A third thing I would not be qualified to say is: “I wish somebody would have told me these things”, because I know them.
The purpose of offering sacrifices to God is to look and hope for salvation. In this sense, making the right sacrifices for God at the right time, has the greatest value in this life. As shepherd of souls, my advice is this: Be alert and by the end of your life, do not allow yourself to have feelings of regret for not having offered to God timely sacrifices when you had the chance to have offered them.
En el Segundo domingo de cuaresma
Reflexión por Theoloscience
Abraham es puesto a prueba por Dios: “Toma a tu hijo único, el que tanto amas, a Isaac; ve a la región de Moria, y ofrécelo en holocausto sobre la montaña que yo te indicaré Gen 22: 2). Ahora, ¿imaginas a Dios pidiéndote que sacrifiques a tu único hijo? ¿Qué harías? Bien, relájate, tal vez, y lo más probable, eso nunca sucederá. Sin embargo, es el deseo de Dios que tú y yo le ofrezcamos sacrificios. En el sentido bíblico, sacrificio significa "hacer algo sagrado o santo". Un sacrificio tiene la intención de ofrecer o dedicar algo o alguien a Dios.
Por ejemplo, el acto de darse a sí mismo a Dios, es el sacrificio del propio yo por Dios. Y eso significa que algunas personas están consagradas o dedicadas a Dios.
Cuando sacrificamos tiempo, talento y otros recursos para Dios, estamos cooperando con él en la expansión de su reino y en su plan de salvación. Todos los sacrificios hechos para Dios son actos de compasión y misericordia.
El presente es el momento de preguntarse a si mismo: ¿qué puedo sacrificar? O bien, ¿qué puedo ofrecerle a Dios con todo mi corazón?
Dios el Padre sacrificó a su Hijo único en la cruz para salvarnos del pecado y de la muerte: "Porque tanto amó Dios al mundo, que dio a su Hijo único, para que todo el que cree en él no se pierda, sino que tenga vida eterna" (Jn 3:16). Ahí lo tenemos. Si Dios dio a su Hijo único en sacrificio por mí, ¿qué estoy dispuesto a ofrecerle a Dios? Aquí hay otra pregunta: ¿es la salvación una prioridad para mí? ¿Te imaginas cuánto mejor sería este mundo si tu y yo hicieramos mejores sacrificios?
Podría preguntar: si la salvación es lo más serio para mí en esta vida, ¿qué debo hacer entonces? La respuesta nos la da Dios Padre en el Evangelio de este segundo domingo de Cuaresma: "Este es mi Hijo amado; escúchenlo "(Marcos 9: 7). Saber esto me llevará a hacer más preguntas. Por ejemplo, ¿estoy dispuesto a sacrificar más tiempo para escuchar al único Hijo de Dios? La tensión ahora está entre saberlo y hacerlo. Tendría que ser proactivo. Si sacrifico mucho o poco, al final de mi vida, solo diré una de dos cosas: "Hice lo mejor que pude". O: "Pude haber hecho más". Una tercera que no estaré calificado para decir es: "Me gustaría que alguien me hubiera dicho estas cosas", porque las se.
El propósito de ofrecer sacrificios a Dios es buscar y esperar alcanzar la salvación. En este sentido, hacer los sacrificios justos para Dios en el tiempo justo, tiene el mayor valor en esta vida. Como pastor de almas, mi consejo es este: Hay que estar alerta y al final de su vida, no se permita sentir arrepentimiento por no haber ofrecido a Dios los sacrificios puntuales cuando tuvo las oportunidades de haberlos ofrecido.
A brief essay on the meaning of true fasting
When I read the first reading for Friday after Ash Wednesday, taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah (58:1-9A), I was surprised when I noticed that the text contains a message exceptionally relevant for the times we live in.
In this message of Isaiah (58:1-9A), it is crystal clear that Elohim wants his chosen people to get rid of all wickedness and sins. Until the chosen people of God shake off their sins and wickedness, their fasting and acts of penance will be rendered fruitless and sterile.
On the third day of Lent, this message of the prophet Isaiah provides solid food for those who are advanced in both knowledge of God’s decrees and right praxis. In fact, reading this text serves as a realization that entering into the true spirit of Lent is not about “It-feels-good-to-me-practices.” But that it is something completely outside and beyond self gratifying acts.
From the three major penitential and cleansing exercises taught by the Jesus, and undertaken by true devote people (Cf. Mt 6:1-6, 16-18), prayer, fasting and almsgiving, Isaiah establishes what true fasting consist of and pleases the LORD:
“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own” (Isa 58:6-7).
The message of the prophet Isaiah is relevant today, because it speaks to a current situation, especially in a time like ours when sojourners are being labeled as undesirable. But Isaiah’s indictment concerns all members of society, not just public servants, but all inhabitants of the land. Every one has been given a portion to fulfill God’s commands. In the end, those who have more resources as well as those who have less will be held accountable by the LORD. The time we live in, is the time of action, the time of judgement will come later: “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” (Mt 25:43).
Elohim made us all stewards of his power and creativity. And his wish concerning hospitality has been expressed by prophets and sacred writers consistently. For example, “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Ex 23:9).
This desire of Elohim, of being attentive and considerate to foreigners, is expressed time and time again: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21).
In the mind of the LORD, it is clearly evident that true piety and fasting consist in doing the right actions for the benefit of others, especially for the most vulnerable in society. It is precisely this true fasting that pleases the LORD. On the other hand, doing the opposite, will spark the LORD’s anger and will yield bitter and unpleasant results: “If you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever” (Jer 7:6-7). This is what the LORD does not want: “Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart” (Zach 7:10).
Here are a few more utterings taken from the Sacred texts concerning the mistreatment of sojourners:
“You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land” (Dt 23:7)
“You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge (Dt 24:17).
“Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, Amen” (Dt 27:19).
“Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jer 22:3).
“They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless” (Ps 94:6).
The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice (Ez 22:29).
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts” (Mal 3:5).
“But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal 2:14).
I hope and pray that these excerpts from Sacred scripture will help us purify our Lenten observances. May the blessings of the LORD descend upon our land and all its inhabitants.