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Old Testament:            Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Psalm                           22:22-30

Epistle:                        Romans 4:13-25

Gospel:                        Mark 8:31-38

Hello friends, my name is Dr. Mark Hobson, and welcome to this homily or teaching on the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent titled, “setting our mind on the divine.” In mainstream Christian churches, Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving, or works of charity.  Our lectionary calendar is a cycle of readings called Years A, B, and C. We are in Year B with the focus on Saint Mark’s Gospel. Today, we will review how the readings scaffold together to reinforce the message of Jesus to set our minds on God’s Divine plan of salvation and not merely human thinking. We begin our video teaching today with the proclamation of the Gospel.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark + (May the Word of the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart).

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

+The Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you, Lord Christ.

As I received positive feedback about my “dad” joke last week, I will begin this week’s message with a little humor. A mom of two boys, Kevin, age 7 and Sean, age 5, decided that during Fridays in Lent the family would have pancakes for dinner. When the pancakes were ready, Kevin asked his mom if he could be served first with the biggest pancake. Sean protested, of course. The mom said, “Boys, boys, if Jesus were here, He would say let my brother be served first with the largest pancake.” Kevin said, “OK Sean, this time, you be Jesus.” That joke, like a pancake, is a bit flat!

The Hebrew Scripture of Genesis tells us of God’s extension of His covenant with Abraham, Sarah, and their descendants. According to Scripture scholars, Abraham was a descendant of Noah, who received the first covenant from God. In today’s reading from Genesis, God tells Abrahan, he shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations even though he and Sarah are past the child-bearing years. God says, “I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” The lesson of the sacred author is that nothing is impossible for God.

Psalm 22 speaks of Abraham’s descendants from the line of Jacob and Rachel and prophecies the coming on One to come, Jesus. His kingship belongs to the Lord and nations shall worship Him forever.

In the epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul explains the meaning of the covenant with Abraham to his readers. Paul interprets the words of Genesis are meant for the ancient Israelites and for believers now. As God provided the miracle of descendants for Abraham, as Abraham had faith in God’s promise, the same God will raise Jesus our Lord from death for our salvation. We too, must believe in the promises of God and have faith in the words of God’s son, Jesus.

This message leads us to the Gospel of Mark. Today, Jesus openly explains that He will undergo great suffering at the hands of religious leaders. Jesus will be killed and rise again in three days. Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him for saying these words. I am certain the Peter had good motives for He did not want his Rabbi to suffer and die. Yet, Jesus explains to Peter and the crowds, that God’s ways are not our ways. That Divine plans and understanding are different and deeper than human plans and understanding. If we wish to follow Jesus, we must deny ourselves and follow in the way of Jesus – His teachings, His behavior, and His complete faith in God’s will.

I think this Gospel message, smartly placed in week two of Lent, tells us that our efforts of living a Holy Lent are not lost on God. God sees our faith, hears our prayers, and honors our good works toward others. And Lent is about prayer, fasting and almsgiving according to our best efforts. God does not want perfection. He wants our faith and love.

A few years ago, the phrase what would Jesus do, (WWJD), was popular among Christians as a guide to help us follow God’s will. I recently read a Scripture reflection that said perhaps what is more important for Lent is what would we do for Jesus? What, dear friends, are you willing to give up, give over, and give out to others in this Lenten season?

In closing, I leave you with a beautiful reflection on Lent from Episcopal Bishop Arthur Carl Lichtenberger on Lenten practice, titled “Fast and Feast” (1964).

Fast from criticism, and feast on praise.

Fast from self-pity, and feast on joy.

Fast from ill-temper and feast on peace.

Fast from resentment, and feast on contentment.

Fast from jealousy, and feast on love.

Fast from pride, and feast on humility.

Fast from selfishness, and feast on service.

Fast from fear, and feast on faith.

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