February 28, 2021

First Reading (Genesis 22: 1,2,9,10-13, 15-18)

God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” he replied. Then God said: “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.” When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD’S messenger called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. “Do not lay your hand on the boy, ” said the messenger. “Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son. Again the LORD’S messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: “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— all this because you obeyed my command.”

Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 116: 10,15-19)

Refrain: I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

1) I believed even when I said: "I am greatly afflicted."
Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones. (Refrain)

2) O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid; you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the LORD. (Refrain)

3) My vows to the LORD I will pay in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. (Refrain)

Second Reading (Romans 8: 31-34)

Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died - or, rather, was raised - who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

Gospel (Mark 9: 2-10)

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

(Copyright 1970, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Copyright 1970, 1997, 1998 Contraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

The English translation of some Psalm responses, some Alleluia and Gospel verses and the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, some Summaries, and the Titles and Conclusion of the Readings, from the Lectionary for Mass copyright 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., Washington D.C. All rights reserved.

The poetic English translation of the sequences of the Roman Missal are taken from the Roman Missal approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, copyright 1964 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission of ICEL.)


The Gospel of Mark, by William Barclay, pp. 209-213. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA. 1975.

Days of the Lord, Volume 2, pp. 82-87. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Mn. 1993.

The Cultural World of Jesus, by John J. Pilch, pp. 52-54. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN. 1996.

Bringing the Word to Life, by Michael R. Kent, pp. 27-28. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT. 1996.

The Word Encountered, by John F. Kavanaugh, pp. 38-41. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1996.

Mark, by Wilfrid Harrington, pp. 132-136. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN. 1979.

Homiletic Ideas:

In order to understand today's gospel reading and its effects on Christ himself and the disciples, we need to put it into its context in Mark's gospel. In Mark 8:31, Jesus tells the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die on the cross. It is then that Peter, speaking for the others, objects that this cannot be so. Our Lord responds with the famous rebuke: "Get behind me, Satan". There follow 5 more verses and then today's reading. (See Barclay for the effects on Jesus and the disciples.)

Seeing Christ transfigured for the disciples was like Moses looking on the face of God and living to talk about it.

When Joseph and Mary went to the temple on the feast of the Presentation, which we celebrated a few weeks ago, they only provided two pigeons as an offering because they could not afford a lamb, as would ordinarily be required. The purpose of the offering of a lamb and a pigeon, or two pigeons for those who could not afford a lamb, was in essence to purchase the first-born male child back from God. Each first-born son was believed to be a gift from God on loan to the parents. Since God had saved their first-born sons from pharoah in Egypt through the blood of a lamb, now every first-born son must be purchased from God through the offering of a lamb. It is significant to note that the lamb offered to purchase the child back from God on this feast would later become the spotless lamb, Christ himself on the cross, who would purchase our souls for God.

Related Songs:
OFFERTORY by John Ness Beck

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, shall I come before him with yearling calves?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give him my first-born for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown unto you, he has shown you what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly, walk humbly with your God.


A Place of Sacrifice

As I was starting to prepare this homily, I kept being drawn back to the first reading and the disturbing request that God makes of Abraham, namely to kill his first-born son. I was puzzled by two facts: that God would make such a request in the first place, and that Abraham could respond so unflinchingly. Now the first-born son is particularly important at this time because he will carry on the family name. In the book of Exodus, God punishes pharoah by killing the first-born son in all of the Egyptian families and spares the Israelites through the blood of the lamb. So why does God make this difficult demand of Abraham, since "thou shalt not kill" is the first of the ten commandments which God himself gives to Moses?

In this reading from Genesis, there is no hint of hesitation on Abraham's part and yet God's command could not have been easy one for him to follow. (Jimmy) Some years ago when we celebrated the Second Sunday of Lent in this cycle, one of the deacons in my parish at the time pointed out how difficult it must have been since his own fifteen year old son had been killed by a drunk driver a little more than a year earlier at the time. (Danny) I also experienced for myself some of what Abraham must have felt as a father being asked to sacrifice his son, when my own then fifteen-year-old son was hit by a car while trick-or-treating a few years ago. Fortunately, he survived, but it gave me quite a scare at the time.

And if we really would like to know what it must have felt like, all we have to do is listen to the mother in this story.

As this story illustrates, God's request of Abraham would not have been an easy one for any parent to fulfill. So why does God demand it of Abraham? It is, of course, to test his faith. In his infinite wisdom, God would have known that Abraham's faith would be strong enough to carry him through this test. But God also had a plan when he made this request of Abraham. For me, a clue to this plan presented itself in the verses from Genesis which are not included in our reading. As Abraham and Isaac were going up the mountain where he was to be sacrificed, Isaac asked his father where the sheep was that would be offered up. Abraham responded that "God himself will provide the lamb for the holocaust". Truer words could not have been spoken.

God made this demand of Abraham because he could rightfully make the same demand of anyone who commits a sin. Because of our sins, God could demand our first-born as a reparation. Webster defines a reparation as the making of amends for an injury or wrong done, an atonement or compensation. There is a text from the book of Micah which I believe sheds some light on this reading. This particular text was used by a composer named John Ness Beck in a song which he wrote appropriately enough called "Offertory". Just as a little background, he wrote it in the last six months of his life after he found out that he had an inoperable brain tumor. I was blown away when I combined that fact with the verses from Micah which he chose. They begin:

Here's a man facing the prospect of an imminent death using these verses about how he will meet his maker. As we used to say back in the sixties, that's real heavy. Then Ness continues with the next verses from Micah:

One gets the distinct impression that this is not going to be enough. So what will appease God? Then comes the verse which relates so well to today's reading:

So there it is: God could ask us for our first-born as a repayment for our sins, just as he asked our ancestor Abraham. But God doesn't permit Abraham to kill Isaac. What does he do instead? He sends us his only son as the reparation for our sins. That is the love which God has for us. We have sinned against him and instead of asking us for reparation, he gives us his own son as the lamb to be offered in place of our own lives, just as the blood of the lamb was used to save the first-born of the Israelites in Egypt. So just as Abraham said to Isaac, God would provide the lamb and he did. God tested Abraham's faith and he pulled through with flying colors. And at the same time, already foreseeing Christ's redemptive death, he spared Isaac, just as he spares each of us from punishment through Christ's death.

Just as God tested Abraham and had tested the author of our story, so are there times in our own lives when we are tested. As Christ demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane when he sweated blood at the thought of what he had to endure, God's will can be difficult indeed. But the reward is a resurrection to eternal life for all those who persevere, who don't lose hope, who trust in God's merciful love. May the Spirit grant you all the grace needed to strengthen you through your trials so that one day you can achieve the reward won for you by God's only begotten Son at such a great price.


1. A Place of Sacrifice. Copyright 1996 by Teresa Anne Arries. Reprinted with permission of the author from Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, pp. 200-204, copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery and Nancy Mitchell. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. 

(Copyright 2015 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at

Second Sunday of Lent (B)

February 28, 2021

Penitential Rite

Lord Jesus, you are the Son of God in whom the Father was well pleased. Lord, have mercy.

Christ Jesus, you came to give us a New Law and to fulfill the words of the prophets. Christ, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you will come again in glory. Lord, have mercy.

Second Sunday of Lent (B)

February 28, 2021

Prayers of the Faithful

Celebrant: Christ became one like us to reveal the love of the Father for us. Therefore, in confidence that he will intercede for us, we bring our needs to the Father.

Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer".

That the members of the Church will come to see beyond the trials of earthly life to the glory of the eternal life to come, we pray to the Lord.

That the leaders of all nations will come to a peaceful resolution of their differences, we pray to the Lord.

That God will send caring people to all those in spiritual or physical need, we pray to the Lord.

That all of those who are preparing to receive their first sacraments, their families and sponsors will come to a deeper appreciation of the meaning of the Gospel in their lives, we pray to the Lord.

That all of our brothers and sisters will be treated as our equals in the sight of God regardless of their race, color, nationality or religion, we pray to the Lord.

That all of those who have contracted the Corona virus will be healed, that those who have died will be welcomed into the loving arms of their Savior who suffered for them and that their grieving families will find strength in their faith, we pray to the Lord.

For all of the intentions we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.

Celebrant: Merciful Father, you glorified your Son on the mountain. May you also grant us to see your glory in heaven after we have successfully endured the trials of this life with the grace of your Spirit. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.