The Word This Week - 2nd March 2015
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First Reading: Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13,15-18
A modern reader cannot but be shocked by the divine demand for a human life in ritualistic sacrifice. What kind of god is this? Abraham lived in a brutal world where it was not at all strange for a human being to be offered in sacrifice to appease a vengeful deity. In doing justice to the spiritual evolution contained in this text we must take the reading as a whole.
Abraham moves from accepting that it is moral to offer human sacrifice to experiencing a generous and loving God who provides his own sacrifice and asks only for our thanks and personal commitment.
Second Reading: Romans 8:31-34
Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? The power of these comforting words by St Paul is appreciated when we focus on the word ‘accuse’. For first century Christians and Jews, The Accuser (Hebrew: Ha Satan), is a malevolent spiritual being who accuses / prosecutes humanity before the court of God (see the Book of Job). Those who have faith in Jesus Christ need have no fear of such malignant forces.
Gospel Reading: Mark 9:2-10
What is God really like? If he were to come down among us what type of person would he be? The answer has already been given to these questions. It is Jesus Christ. The significance of God’s self-manifestation in Jesus Christ can never be over emphasised given the strange and downright destructive theologies that can exist among those call themselves Christian. The mystical experience recorded in the Gospel shows Jesus in the midst of Moses, the religious law giver, and Elijah, critic of the corrupt King Ahaziah. We do not meet Jesus Christ / God simply in religious observation but also in social justice. Both are needed for a meaningful counter with God.