Self Sacrificing God
The readings for the second Sunday of Lent powerfully reveal the lengths God will go to bring people to freedom. The covenant that God makes with Abram in Genesis 15 is curse-covenant by which God promised to lay down his own life to fulfill his promises. Curse-covenants or maledictory oaths are sealed as both participants walk between two halves of a slaughtered animal. The ritual’s grisly point is that if you don’t fulfill the terms of the covenant then you will share the same fate as the victim animal.
Abram falls into a deep sleep as flaming torch and smoking fire pot, both symbols of Divine presence, pass through the sacrifice. All this indicates that this is a promise that God alone makes and keeps for Abram and his descendants. This is perhaps the first revelation of God’s identity as a God of self sacrifice. But it’s a story. An inspired story, yes, but what does it really mean for us.
Jesus identity as Son, declared by the Father at his Baptism, is affirmed again and now declared “my chosen.” Jesus’ appearance and company, Moses and Elijah, also reveal his identity as the prophet of the new Exodus. The Transfiguration was to declare to the disciples the direction of their own Exodus, and their new identity as apostles of the risen Jesus.
But what of our Transfiguration?
Lent is a time of self sacrifice and there is an inner burning, pain and effort required in making and keeping our promises to God and one another. Conversion from our ego based identity to our true self as God’s beloved chosen witnesses can feel overwhelming. Soften as self awareness cuts through the bonds of fear that hold our false identities in place. Trust the flaming torch of discomfort. It will burn your anxiety, dissatisfaction and grief away. Meet the energetic force of your restlessness with the rest of you.
If we are willing to experience the burning discomfort and overwhelming emotions of our Exodus then our identities will be purified and strengthened. The more we die to the desperate neediness of our false selves the more we will know that we too are chosen of God. Our vocation is how we respond to the Father whose self sacrificing Spirit poured out of Jesus in the deep sleep of death on the cross.
In his side, cut open, God absorbed the curses of all the world. From his side we absorb all the blessings promised to Abram and more. The more that we absorb the voice of the Father in choosing our vocation the more that we will find the path of true freedom, life and self, hopefully, with many others transfigured alongside us.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director – OMI Lacombe Canada
Feel free to contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an appointment.