Lent 2015: Second Sunday (Cycle B): The Beloved Child
"This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him." (Mark 9)
This is the day of beloved children, of the favoured only child, Isaac, beloved child of Abraham, and of Jesus, beloved child of God.
I know a family whose beloved and only son ran out into the street on his eager way home from school and was struck by a passing car. The child died. I know another family which was forced to "sacrifice" a beloved child, a little girl, to leukemia and little more than a year later (unbelievable) a second child, a son.
What is the meaning of all this death? Does God ask such sacrifice? No, natural consequences such as accident, disease or deprivation are neither punishment nor a demand made by God. The death of God's own beloved Son was a willing sacrifice of love but also a result of our sin and hate. The sacrifice of Isaac was one of perceived obedience but God prevented it and saved the child.
Somewhere in the midst of the irreparable loss of a beloved child one must grow beyond resentment to true worship, that is, to total trust in God's unconditional love. How far are we from such trust? Did not God also give up the beloved and only child accepting the death and renewing the life of the God-Child killed by us? Surely we can trust such a God.
Love like this, the love revealed in the cross of Christ on that other mountain called Calvary, this love refuses to be embittered even while it is being broken. The cross was not "fair" except in terms of love.
Can we believe that God does not demand, God receives our gift of the beloved child and will restore and make good that gift? Was not our child a gift to us, not owed but freely given? Do we know whose child we are? God is never outdone in generosity. All we have is gift — child of womb or heart, brainchild or work of our hands — all is given. All will be restored, transfigured.
Therefore, when we stand at our own cross, face our own loss, let us remember the scene on this mountain when the glory of the beloved Son was revealed, so that the disciples might not despair when they saw the same beloved Son transfigured by death on that other mountain.
In the time of Lent we struggle anew with the profound mystery called "paschal," the mystery of your love and of your death, of your resurrection and of your glory. By your own Spirit may we recognize the paschal mystery lived in our very own lives. May our faith be strong, our hope certain, our resentment dissolved, our worship full of love because each of us, too, is the beloved child.
Mary Alban Bouchard CSJ
This reflection is from Sister Mary Alban Bouchard’s book Until the Son is Risen published by Novalis in 1988 and adapted for the web.