Wednesday, March 27, 2019

2nd Sunday of Lent C: Our Sins and His Curse

March 17, 2019

Jesus, I trust in you!

Walking between animal carcasses at the sealing of a covenant was supposed to be a curse and a warning. The gesture was supposed to warn both parties that the misfortune that befell these dead animals would be the lot of anyone of them who would violate the stipulations of the covenant. And so both God and Abraham passed between the carcasses. In this way, they signed the covenant in the way of the ancients.

And yet we know who violated the covenant. The people of Israel were not faithful to God. Like a harlot wife, Israel committed adultery against God. She worshiped other gods. She violated her marriage with God.

However, the tragedy of the slaughtered animals did not fall on her nor on us. Instead, it was God who suffered the animals’ fate. He was born amidst animals in Bethlehem. As he fasted in the desert, he lived amidst wild beasts. Like sheep led to the slaughter, the incarnate Son of God was slain at the very hour the sheep were sacrificed in the temple.

We will not appreciate what Christ has done if we do not consider the Transfiguration. The Lord Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to the mountain where he was transfigured before them: his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. He allowed them to see his glory as God’s only begotten Son. So beautiful was that sight that Peter exclaimed: “Master, it is good that we are here…” Jesus showed them the beauty of his glory in order to prepare them for his “exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” In that exodus, Jesus will be seen treated like an animal: scourged, beaten up, and crucified. That glorified beauty of his Divine Face will be marred by the cruelty of men. His face shall be defiled by our sin…in the very way the Divine likeness in Adam was destroyed by original sin. Yes, God made man in his image and likeness, patterned after the beauty of the face of God’s only begotten Son. But at his crucifixion, Christ’s face will be marred, patterned after the hideous face of sin. God gave us his beauty when he created us but when we crucified him, we gave him the ugliness of our sinful nature.  “There is no beauty in him nor comeliness, and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him.” (Is. 53: 2)  

It is in this way that he shall restore to us the beauty of the Divine likeness which was destroyed by sin. The exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem will be our exodus as well. That deformed face of the Crucified One will be glorified at the Resurrection. Through the discipline of self-restraint, the saints have rejected the luxury and the comforts of this world in order to join Christ in his exodus from this world. By restraining their bodies, they were nourished inwardly by God’s Word and their spiritual sight was purified. This enabled them to keep their eyes fixed on the glory of Jesus. They have died to the world and now they rest and live in the light of the Lord. If we listen to him as the Father commanded us to do, then we will also follow him in his exodus from this world to the Father. Heaven shall be our home and “he will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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