Bible readings & reflections
Second Sunday in Lent - Year B
25 February 2024
THOUGHTS FOR THIS WEEK
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16: God promises Abram and Sarai that they will be parents of many nations, that they will be blessed with many descendants and that kings will come from them. Therefore, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah – Princess.
Psalm 22:24-32: God is praised and celebrated because God cares and provides for the oppressed, and all nations will come to worship God, both poor and prosperous, healthy and those close to death.
Romans 4:13-25: Abraham did not receive God’s promise through obeying the law, but through faith, and this faith was considered to be his righteousness – his approval by God. In the same way, when we place our faith in Christ, who died and was raised, it is considered our righteousness – our approval by God.
Mark 8:31-38: Jesus predicts his death, but Peter objects. Jesus, then reprimands Peter, and tells all his followers that they must take up their crosses and follow him, not trying to save their lives, but willingly giving them up for the sake of the Gospel.
Rev Tania writes:
This week the readings remind us of the toughest part of responding to the call of Jesus. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “When Jesus calls a person to follow him, he calls that person to come and die.” The paradox of the Gospel that is highlighted this week, though, is that it is in dying that we find life. What do we understand by the word “faith”. What becomes clear here is that faith is not about some intellectual assent to certain propositions. Rather, faith is about the losing of our lives for the sake of the Gospel, which includes both the purpose to which we devote our lives, and the practices by which we seek to live out that purpose.
In Abraham’s case, God renews the promise which called Abraham from his homeland. In response Abraham had tried to use very human methods to fulfil God’s promise, with undesirable results. Now God emphasises that not just the purpose, but the ways that purpose is fulfilled, must be directed by God’s agenda.
In the Psalm, God’s rulership of the earth is celebrated, along with the justice and grace that this brings to the earth. In the midst of this song of celebration, the psalmist recommits to fulfilling vows to God.
In the letter to the Romans, Paul reflects on Abraham’s faith and how it was this, and not obedience to law, that was his righteousness. Here faith is once again viewed as the giving of life to follow God’s purposes, as opposed to simply agreeing to some legalistic propositions.
Finally, the Gospel drives the theme home in a very challenging way. Peter, who had just expressed faith in Jesus, is reprimanded because his faith has not yet embraced the implications of what he believes. So, Jesus challenges him, and the other disciples, to allow their faith to become the driving cause for their lives – to lose their lives for the sake of Jesus and the message of God’s Reign that Jesus embodied. Here faith moves from an intellectual activity to a radical, transforming, all-consuming way of being.