The readings this Sunday focus on transformation, our need for continuous growth in our relationship with God to become the person God created us to be. Our first reading tells of the story of Abraham being called by God to offer that which is most precious to him, his son. “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will show you.” (Gen. 22:2) However, God uses Abraham’s obedience to put an end to the tradition of the time, that of offering human sacrifice. “Do not lay your hand on the boy. Do not do the least thing to him.” (Gen. 22:12) Abraham is transformed because of his relationship with God; he becomes the man God intends him to be.
In our second reading, St. Paul assures us that God will walk with us on our journey of transformation. “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not with him also give us everything else?” (Rom. 8:32) In the Gospel, Mark recounts a transformative moment in the life of Jesus when his apostles experience an insight to the fullness of life to which we are all called.
God’s transforming power of healing and forgiveness are so needed in our world today. Perhaps those who most witness to the transformative power of God are the loved ones of those who have been murdered and who advocate for abolishing the death penalty. In his Lenten Message, Pope Francis states, “A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart …open to God.” Family members of murdered victims testify that the process of seeking the death penalty serves to delay their healing process. They also maintain that they do not want their loved one’s memory tarnished with further violence. Today, we commemorate the International Day to Abolish the Death Penalty. Let us pray to be open to the transformative power of restorative justice and healing to promote a more compassionate, safe and just society.
Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF