Gospel Meditation – “What do you want me to give up?”

February 25, 2024 — 2nd Sunday of Lent

As a college student, my prized possession was an after-market car stereo. It was my pride and joy: glorious audio, eye-catching display screen, and multi-disc CD changer. It drained my hard-earned dollars, but it was totally worth it. It drenched me in music everywhere I drove. On Ash Wednesday of my senior year of college, Father Tom, the Jesuit priest at my university said, “Pray for God to tell you what he wants you to sacrifice for Lent.” I did. In my heart, the answer came: “Give up listening to your car stereo for forty days.” I winced. Not possible, I thought. Can’t do it. I made other plans. The next morning, I was stunned to find that my car had been broken into, and my fancy stereo ripped out and stolen. 

God’s command to sacrifice what we love is no joke. This week in Genesis 22, God says: “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Believe me, I know. We like to be in control. It chaffs us that God sets the terms of what we must sacrifice, and how. But this is no impersonal, tyrannical process. Remember that God uses their names, Abraham and Isaac. God knows each one of us and the precious gifts He commands us to offer. Finally, our sacrifices are for our own good. Do we trust this enough to do what Father Tom asked me to do? 

Lenten challenge: This week, I dare you to ask God: “What do you want me to give up?” He may ask for that which you love most. It will be something precious to you: time, money, a relationship, a dream, an opportunity. What matters is we trust Him and act sacrificially in line with His command. Whatever we sacrifice will of course come back to us as surely as the Risen Jesus — but that doesn’t make it easy. 

— Father John Muir ©LPi

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