Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Tuesday, 20 February 2018 16:42
LITURGY NOTES FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
Second Sunday of Lent
March 4th 2018
Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand.
We pay our respects to them and for their care of the land.
May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.
I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,
the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,
and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.
‘Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides
and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love,
and then, for a second time in the history of the world,
man will have discovered fire.’
Teilhard de Chardin
First Reading Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Responsorial Psalm Ps 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19
R. (116:9) I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
Second Reading Romans 8:31b-34
Gospel Mark 9:2-10
v You have shown us God's reign and given us a new vision. Jesus, have mercy.
v You have revealed to us the covenant of peace that God has made with us. Christ, have mercy.
v You show us the God of Peace who transforms our minds and hearts to work for peace in the world. Jesus, have mercy.
you are always faithful.
Transform us, give us light and strength
to take up our task in life
and to lighten the burden
of our brothers and sisters.
Prayer over the Gifts
make us holy as you are holy
and compassionate as you are compassionate.
We now bring bread and wine before you.
May this Eucharist help us
to see beyond appearances
and see him who is our strength and joy
and our way to one another.
Prayer after Communion
that we have celebrated.
May it lead us out of the darkness of fear
and to commit ourselves more courageously
so that we may respond to you with love
and generous service to all our sisters and brothers
Prayer of the Faithful
Introduction: In the midst of a world filled with fear and anguish, let us pray that we, the Church, will be a sign of hope capable of transforming human existence. The response is: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
Brothers and sisters, let us pray for all whose faith or trust is challenged by the demands of daily living, and especially for those whose challenges seem insurmountable.
· For our Church, that leaders and members together may be credible to the world of today by sacrificing power and opportunism for a genuine transformation of persons and structures. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For people facing the death penalty: may the families of all people who face the death penalty around the world, and especially the families of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran know that the prayers and thoughts are with them to sustain them in this distressing time. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For the young people in our world who continue to be victims of ‘sacrifice’ at the hands of the merchants of death, greed and abuse of power: may those with authority use their power to prevent these violent action that continue ever so frequently. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For world leaders that they will cease using bellicose language against other nations, especially Iran and North Korea, and work to build greater understanding and harmony through listening to one another and acknowledging legitimate grievances. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For those who live in circumstances that challenge trust in others or in God: those living in war, violence, poverty or any kind of injustice. In this time of listening. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For those who are cynical, doubtful, despairing; for all whose faith is tentative or shaken. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For Christian people, that they may discover a vision of the world according to God's plan and have the strength to make the sacrifices to bring this to reality. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For our world, with all its potential for peace and equity, that people may share the goods of the earth, and that we may give and grant others the right and the opportunity to have a better quality of life. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For those who suffer the pain of racial discrimination, especially people of the Islamic faith at this time, that our society become more accepting of difference. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For parents whose children have been sacrificed in the name of war, slavery, greed and prostitution, that they may be consoled by the vision of the transfigured One who is our hope and resurrection. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
· For the women and men who are imprisoned because they dared speak out for truth and justice, that their actions may encourage others to overcome their fears. In this time of listening. We pray: Let us walk together in the land of the living.
Concluding Prayer: Transforming God, we have listened to your Son, Jesus Christ. Open our hearts so that we might continue to receive your word with tenderness and trust, and cooperate with you in transforming the world. We make this prayer in Jesus' name.
Gracious God, you call us to be people of deep faith, especially in the most difficult situations of our lives. Hear the concerns we lay before you, and empower us to place our trust in you, who handed over your only Son on our behalf.
Alternative Prayers of the Faithful adapted from ‘Assisi Pledge for Peace’
- May we proclaim our firm conviction that violence and terrorism are incompatible with the authentic spirit of religion and to doing everything possible to eliminate the root causes of terrorism.
- May we strive to educate people to mutual respect and esteem, in order to help bring about a peaceful coexistence between people of different ethnic groups, cultures, and religions.
- May we commit to fostering the culture of dialogue so that there be an increased understanding and mutual trust between individuals and among peoples.
- May we strive to defend the right of everyone to live a decent life in accordance with their own cultural identity and to form freely a family of their own.
- May we work towards frank and patient dialogue by refusing to consider our differences as an insurmountable barrier but as an opportunity for greater understanding.
- May we commit to forgiving one another for past and present prejudices, and to support one another in a common effort to overcome selfishness, arrogance, hatred and violence, and learn that peace without justice is no true peace.
- May we opt to taking the side of the poor and the helpless, speak out for those who have no voice, and work effectively to change these situations.
- May we take up the cry of those who refuse to be resigned to violence and evil and make every effort to offer the people of our time real hope for justice and peace.
- May encourage every effort to promote friendship between peoples in conviction that it is in the through solidarity and understanding between people that greater harmony is created.
- May we commit to urging our political and religious to make every effort to create and consolidate an environment of solidarity and peace based on justice.
(Adapted from the ‘Assisi Pledge for Peace’ sent by Pope John Paul II to world leaders in February 2002)
March 1 International Death Penalty Abolition day
March 1 Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day
March 1 International Treaty to Ban landmines comes into force in 1999
March 1 Clean Up Australia Day
March 5 International Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are - in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society - completely forgotten, completely left alone.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997); Founder of the Missionaries Of Charity
When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
‘We speak of a situation of extreme poverty in our countries. We must remember, however, that this poverty has a very concrete face:
* the faces of the Indigenous peoples and the Afro-Americans who live in inhuman situations, the poorest of the poor;
* the faces of the campesinos who, in our continent, have no land of their own and are exploited by landowners;
* the faces of the factory workers who are badly paid and face difficulties to organize their unions;
* the faces of the outcasts in our large urban centers. They live in the midst of wealth and have nothing of their own;
* the faces of the unemployed who have lost their jobs because of repeated economic crises and unjust models of economic development;
* the faces of our youth who are frustrated and lost for lack of training and orientation;
* the faces of our children, weakened by poverty even before they are born, suffering from physical and mental deficiencies;
* the faces of the aged, more and more numerous, abandoned by a society that only values those who produce wealth.’
These faces of the poor in the Americas call out for a Transfiguration of our unjust economic and social structures.
Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, retired archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil, referring to final document of the Latin American Bishops' Conference Meeting in Puebla, Mexico, in 1979.
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.
I count myself as a spiritual sister to those the US government has murdered, and I am angry at my powerlessness.
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.
It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.
Anne Louise Germaine de Stael
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
What the people want is very simple - they want an America as good as its promise.
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.
Joanna Macy (1929-)
Frequently people think compassion and love are merely sentimental. No! They are very demanding. If you are going to be compassionate, be prepared for action.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931-);
It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
If we simply repeat the formulas of the past, our words may have the character of doctrine and dogma but they will not have the character of good news. We may be preaching perfectly orthodox doctrine but it is not the gospel for us today. We must take the idea of good news seriously. If our message does not take the form of good news, it is simply not the Christian gospel.’
Albert Nolan, O.P. in, God in South Africa.
As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become victims of the darkness.
Justice William O. Douglas
It matters not
who you love,
where you love,
why you love,
when you love,
or how you love,
It matters only
that You love.
A Prayer for Peace
Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS,
for they shall be known as
the Children of God.
But I say to you that hear,
love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you.
To those who strike you on the cheek,
offer the other also,
and from those who take away your cloak,
do not withhold your coat as well.
Give to everyone who begs from you,
and of those who take away your goods,
do not ask them again.
And as you wish that others would do to you,
so do to them.
There is in this world both beauty and the humiliated…and we must strive to be unfaithful neither to the one nor to the other.
Our goal should not be the benefit of a privileged few, but rather the improvement of the living conditions of all.
Pope John Paul II, Message of Lent 2003
The fundamental starting point for all of Catholic social teaching is the defense of human life and dignity: every human person is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inviolable dignity, value, and worth, regardless of race, gender, class, or other human characteristics.
Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States
Thomas Merton Peace Prayer
Almighty and merciful God, Creator and ruler of the universe, whose designs are without blemish, whose compassion for the errors of [humans] is inexhaustible, in your will is our peace.
Mercifully hear this prayer which rises to you from the tumult and desperation of a world in which you are forgotten, in which your name is not invoked, your laws are derided and your presence is ignored. Because we do not know you, we have no peace.
From the heart of an eternal silence, you have watched the rise of empires and have seen the smoke of their downfall. You have witnessed the impious fury of ten thousand fratricidal wars, in which great powers have torn whole continents to shreds in the name of peace and justice.
A day of ominous decision has now dawned on this free nation. Save us then from our obsessions! Open our eyes, dissipate our confusions, teach us to understand ourselves and our adversary. Let us never forget that sins against the law of love are punishable by loss of faith, and those without faith stop at no crime to achieve their ends!
Help us to be masters of the weapons that threaten to master us. Help us to use our science for peace and plenty, not for war and destruction. Save us from the compulsion to follow our adversaries in all that we most hate, confirming them in their hatred and suspicion of us. Resolve our inner contradictions, which now grow beyond belief and beyond bearing. They are at once a torment and a blessing: for if you had not left us the light of conscience, we would not have to endure them. Teach us to wait and trust.
Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace. But grant us above all to see that our ways are not necessarily your ways, that we cannot fully penetrate the mystery of your designs and that the very storm of power now raging on this earth reveals your hidden will and your inscrutable decision.
Grant us to see your face in the lightning of this cosmic storm, O God of holiness, merciful to [all]. Grant us to seek peace where it is truly found. In your will, O God, is our peace.
A human person is of more value than the entire world.
Saint John Eudes
There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing, . . . the right to education, and work . . . ‘ Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, #26
The true child of God has the strength to use the sword, but will not use it, knowing every human is the Image of God.
After the Transfiguration
Grinding up the steep incline,
our calves throbbing,
we talked of problems
and slapped at flies.
Then you touched my shoulder,
said, ‘turn around.’
Behind us floated
blue on lavender,
a glimpse from God's eyes.
Descending, how could we chat
mundanely of the weather, like deejays?
We wondered if, returning,
James and John had squabbled:
whose turn to fetch the water,
after the waterfall of grace?
After he imagined the shining tents,
did Peter's walls seem narrow,
smell of rancid fish?
Did feet that poised on Tabor
cross the cluttered porch?
After the bleached light,
could eyes adjust to ebbing
grey and shifting shade?
Cradling the secret in their sleep
did they awaken cautiously,
wondering if the mountaintop
would gild again-bringing
that voice, that face?
Kathy Coffey teaches English at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Regis College.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight, and never stop fighting.
When we yield to discouragement it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.
St Therese of Lisieux
Some things you must always be unable to bear.
Some things you must never stop refusing to bear.
Injustice and outrage and dishonour and shame.
No matter how young you are
or how old you have got.
Not for kudos and not for cash,
your picture in the paper
nor money in the bank, neither.
Just refuse to bear them.
The challenge is to recognize that the world is about two things: differentiation and communion. The challenge is to seek a unity that celebrates diversity, to unite the particular with the universal, to recognize the need for roots while insisting that the point of roots is to put forth branches. What is intolerable is for differences to become idolatrous. No human being's identity is exhausted by his or her gender, race, ethnic origin, national loyalty, or sexual orientation. All human beings have more in common than they have in conflict, and it is precisely when what they have in conflict seems overriding that what they have in common needs most to be affirmed. James Baldwin described us well: 'Each of us, helplessly and forever, contains the other — male in female, female in male, white in black and black in white. We are part of each other.
William Coffin Sloane, The Heart Is a Little to The Left: Essays on Public Morality
Christians should never think they honor the greater truth they find in Christianity, by ignoring truths found elsewhere.
William Coffin Sloane, A Passion for the Possible: A Message to U.S. Churches
Too many Christians use the Bible as a drunk does a lamppost — for support rather than for illumination.
William Coffin Sloane, A Passion for the Possible: A Message to U.S. Churches
Credo — I believe — best translates 'I have given my heart to.' However imperfectly, I have given my heart to the teaching and example of Christ, which, among many other things, informs my understanding of faiths other than Christianity…. To love God by loving my neighbor is an impulse equally at the heart of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It therefore makes eminent sense in today's fractured world for religious people to move from truth-claiming to the function truth plays.
William Coffin Sloane, Credo
Moreover, when we consider how, on a whole range of questions — from the number of sacraments to the ordination of women, pacifism, abortion, and homosexuality — Christians cannot arrive at universal agreement, then we have to be impressed by a divine incomprehensibility so vast that no human being can speak for the Almighty. As St. Paul asks, ‘For who has known the mind of God?’ To learn from one another and to work together towards common goals of justice and peace — this surely is what suffering humanity has every right to expect of believers of all faiths.
William Coffin Sloane, Credo
Globalization of the economy, it is claimed will 'lift all boats.' Today it's becoming clear that it will 'lift all yachts.' It's not doing much for those on their leaking lift rafts.
William Coffin Sloane, Credo
What we and other nuclear powers are practicing is really nuclear apartheid. A handful of nations have arrogated to themselves the right to build, deploy, and threaten to use nuclear weapons while policing the rest of the world against their production. . . . Nuclear apartheid is utopian and arrogant. It is a recipe for proliferation, a policy of disaster. That is why Kofi Annan repeatedly says, 'Global nuclear disarmament must remain at the top of the UN agenda.' Shouldn't nuclear disarmament also be at the top of the churches' agenda?’
William Coffin Sloane, Credo
I love to see Christians enter the fray on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged, to fight for housing for low-income families, for decent health care for the aging, for fair treatment for minorities, for peace for everyone — provided that they always remember that there are many causes and more than one solution to problems of injustice and war. Most of all, in these times that are neither safe nor sane, I love to see Christians risk maximum fidelity to Jesus Christ when they can expect minimal support from the prevailing culture.
William Coffin Sloane, Credo
God of Names,
old and new.
God of Peoples,
old and new.
God of Promises,
old and new.
We turn away this season:
from all pride that would own you,
from all lies that would fear you,
from all burdens that would blame you.
We turn for you this season:
from our isolation we turn toward others,
from our chaos we turn to inward calm,
from our crosses of shame we turn toward not glory but solidarity.
We hope against hope...
promising, peopling, naming!
From Out In Scripture
Reflection on the readings
All the readings today tell is that Jesus reveals to us what God wants. But what will you do with Jesus’ various epiphanies or revelations as we going into Lent? What will you do with them once we realise where they lead? What will we do with the words ‘this is my beloved child’ when we realise they are meant for us? These words that define Lent mean we share, along with Jesus, his chosenness and glory but also rejection and abuse, injustice and death. These words are not just a baptism affirmation but propels us into a way of life that makes God’s Reign visible for others. Some will perceive this as a threat. It is fine to be up on the mountain but going down from the mountain is not for the faint of heart. Perhaps Jesus should have stayed there. Yet he comes back down into the mundane nature of everyday life of misunderstanding, squabbling, disbelieving disciples. He comes down into the religious and political quarrels of the day. He comes down into the jealousy and rivalry that can colour our relationships. He came down into the poverty, injustice and suffering that make up our lives. This is the Jesus who came down the mountain but also was God coming down among us in the incarnation. Jesus came to embrace us out of love. Today’s gospel is another story of Jesus coming down into our brokenness, fear, disappointment, and loss and enter the dark places of the world and the dark places of our lives.
Paul asks: How can we be afraid? ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ God came among us through Jesus – became one of us, entered the world we live in - a world that is filled with hatred and violence; a world where people are willing to kill other people, respond to hate with hate, and violence with violence. Jesus was not spared the vilification, abuse, torture and death as many other people are, but we observe how he responded. We need to learn over and over again that he did not respond to that hatred with hatred or violence with violence. He returned love for hate and nonviolence for violence – praying for those who put him to death. This was his way. We have to listen and follow.How can we be afraid of this God? The saintly former archbishop of Recife, Brazil, Helder Camara, once said: ‘Be careful of the way you live, it is the only gospel most people will ever read!’
The gospel story of the transfiguration is about seeing in a new way. Seeing things as they are and how they could be. The Transfiguration is a narrative of hope, because the one who was rich in divinity, made himself poor to be with us. We are called to step outside of our normal boundaries and listen to Jesus….. who speaks to us through suffering men, women and children. What if we would listen more? In the midst of war and violence, we are called to see the presence of God and the invitation to peace. Abraham learned that God was a God of peace and not of sacrifice. Yet we see young people sacrificed over and over again in places in many places of the world as they are forced to fight battles they have nothing to do. Over and over again we see young people die in schools and shopping centres at the hands of deranged gunmen who have been enabled by ever crazier merchants in weapons. How much we wish that people would come to this conclusion as the crazy call to war against Iran or Russia or Syria or Iraq or North Korea is being ramped up again. In all these places, people just want to live in peace and security. There are more peace-mongers than war-mongers! The vision of Abraham, the standing with Jesus on the mountain could be a way of learning that war and injustice, poverty and hunger are not inevitable.
The Genesis story is about the end of human sacrifice – anything that diminishes the image of God in another. Killing [‘human sacrifice’], whether in war or in refugee detention centres or capital punishment, has no sanction and no place in our religion. This connects with the covenant of peace God made with all creation in the Noah story. It has broad implications for our peace and justice making. God wants us to dedicate ourselves towards life – all life and wellbeing. Abraham saw that violence is not God’s way, but the blood of many young people continues to be offered to God in war by people who have never served in conflict or are merely obsessed with greed and power, or drunk on patriotism. That ’human sacrifice’ continues to be offered in the use of sex slaves, human trafficking, child labour, sweat shops and detention of asylum seekers.
Like the story in Genesis today, it is the male who makes the decision for human sacrifice. Where was Isaac’s mother, Sarah? Was Isaac not her son, too? We can imagine what she felt? How many women have had their eyes opened to the lies, deceit, waste, the evil sacrifice of humanity to war in the form of their children, husbands, fathers and brothers. When God’s angel stayed Abraham’s hand, it said ‘Enough!’ Abraham's experience was transfiguration - a new way of understanding God. This is a story for all Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of all other faiths. ‘Enough!’ After 12 years in Iraq, 100’s of billions of dollars that belongs to the poor and 100’s of 1000s of innocent men, women and children dead. Some places like Fallujah were so contaminated by depleted uranium that makes it virtually impossible to give birth to a baby without serious defects if it survives childbirth. Fallujah has come into the news again with the senate appointment of former General Jim Molan, who served there. An ecological crisis has been left in the country. A refugee crisis has been left there and in Syria and Libya. The voice of God today rings out: ‘listen to him’. ‘Put away the sword’. ‘Don't return evil for evil. Return good for evil’.
The Transfiguration is a sign of hope. We have transfiguration moments in our lives. It is possible to see things differently and thus act differently. Jesus saw things that others were unaware of. He noticed the people like the poor widow who gave all she had in the giving all she had; noticed Zacchaeus in the sycamore tree and called him to come down; he felt the woman’s touch who reached out to him in a great crowd hoping to be healed. Jesus seemed to see things from an upside-down world. He dissuaded his disciples from dismissing little children, considered unimportant, who climbed all over him. Jesus noticed. He paid attention to things and to nature. In all this he was able to see the presence of God. As he was able to see with the eyes of love, we are called to follow as we come down the mountain. It is possible to see God in others, to recognise their sacredness and dignity. It means making the effort to connect with them. It is possible that we can live together in our diversity: let go of racism; let go of hatred for homosexuals; let go of greed, power and the need to be in control; to let go of violence in word and action; to let go of fear that leads to paralysis and inaction; to let go of the mistrust that prevent conflict and problem resolution – all this because we have been to the ‘mountain’ and come down again knowing that God is in all things, all people, that we are sisters and brothers.
Jesus will not and cannot reject us. His coming down the mountain is to remind us that we do not have to hide the hard and difficult parts of our lives from God. The hope is that Lent will be a time of trusting in God’s mercy revealed through the one who came down the mountain, who became flesh for us, who entered the dark places of our world and seeks out the dark places in our lives to bring them to light, which makes trust and courage possible. For no other reason was Jesus born, lived, died and was raised again, except that we might know that God is unrelentingly and indefatigably for us!
The Gospel today is not just retelling what happened to Jesus but shows us what is involved and demanded whenever and wherever we recognize that Jesus is the Messiah. As Jesus gradually opened the eyes of the blind man at Bethsaida, he also reveals to us the nature and implications of his ‘messiahship.’ What we need to keep in mind, is that which makes it do-able - the realisation that we are not alone in this.
As mentioned earlier, I mentioned earlier Paul tells us, ‘though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness’ (Phil. 2:6-7). Jesus could also have stayed on the mountain too but came down into the mundane nature of everyday life where we find the nitty-gritty details of misunderstanding, squabbles, disbelief, self-centredness, religious and political quarrels of the day, jealousies and rivalry that colour our relationships, down into the poverty and pain that make up our world.
We have been exhorted to listen to Jesus. The message remains the same: love one another, i.e., take care of one another, especially the downtrodden. Whenever we give our time for the benefit of another, we are laying down our life. Whenever we take the time to write on behalf of a person who is being oppressed or ill-treated, even though we are unlikely to ever meet that person, we are laying down our life. Whenever we rally or support a living wage or seek to ensure humane treatment of migrants and refugees, we are laying down our life. Abraham learned to hear God’s desires in a new way and saw that God did not want the death of his son. May we come to understand the social implications of the gospel and learn to speak up for justice for all those who are oppressed in any way. Maybe we have come to see that war and injustice, poverty and hunger, do not have to be.
Again, the Transfiguration is a sign of great hope. It is possible to see the presence of God in Jesus. It is possible to see things in a new way and see God in others. It is possible to let go of racism, to let go of an addiction to money, to let go of power and control, to let go of violence, to let go of inaction, to let go of our blindness and selfishness. It is possible to solve international problems without war. It is even possible to let go of the religious experience on the mountain and come down and find God in all things – the whole of creation. It is possible to see the world as a global community and to see all people as our brothers and sisters. These are moments of transfiguration. They are not just about Jesus but about us: listening, seeing, feeling and responding to bring light, love and compassion to others.
A beautiful little girl with Down syndrome, got up from her seat during a papal audience and went toward the Pope. The girl then sat down near him and the Holy Father continued to speak while holding hands with the little girl.