A few years ago, we visited Croatia and stayed with a family for a couple of nights. In that time, I met our hosts’ son-in-law. We got talking about what we did for a job, and he told me that he worked in Angola, clearing mines. Very dangerous work: putting himself at risk to protect other people; I asked him how he had got into that line of work, and he said it stemmed from the war in the Balkans following the fall of Communism. He also told me about how lucky he and his family were to be alive.
He said that there had been many tales of families being attacked by their neighbours, because there was a lot of mistrust of people who were not of the same ethnic background. One night, the local police commander; who knew his father; knocked on the door; he told his father that in 30 minutes he would be coming back and there would be a mob with him. His family had 30 minutes to gather their possessions and flee before the mob came. If it hadn’t been for that police commander’s warning the likelihood, is they would all have been killed by their neighbours. The police commander applied humanity to his orders and managed to warn this family to allow them to flee.
Today we see hundreds of thousands of families fleeing under similar circumstances; the exodus of Ukraine is larger than the Exodus from the bible, which we recall at Easter. We are very aware of these refugees because our news broadcasters have sent special correspondents to the region to report. We seem to be less aware of the population being starved in Yemen, the persecution of the Palestinians in the Holy Land, the various wars in Africa including in our sister Diocese of Bamenda and now that the news cycle has moved on from the millions starving in Afghanistan.
All of these locations have desperate people struggling for life because of man’s inhumanity to man. We heard last week how Cafod is helping around the world to try to end hunger. I pray that our politicians will work tirelessly to tackle the root causes of hunger – blind ambition, greed, lust for power and inhumanity. Yes, there are natural disaster too, but we are beginning to realise that some of these ‘natural disasters’ are caused by how mankind is using the resources of the world, a world which has been entrusted to mankind by God.
Modern technology makes the world seem a smaller place and we are able to link with people around the world; live through a telephone. We can see people and talk to them wherever they are. Our first reading today tells us why this is important. Through the trust and faith Abram had in God, all of these people are our brothers and sisters. Abram, who just two chapters later in the Genesis story would be called Abraham and who God made a Covenant with.
All the people who follow an Abrahamic faith are the descendants God spoke about; when He told Abram to look up to the sky and count the stars. Through the New Covenant won for us by Christ’s death and resurrection we have become descendants of Abraham. So I say again, all of these people are our brothers and sisters.
God has given mankind the knowledge to develop technologies to help with communication, with medicine, to improve sanitation, to make clean water available, to harness the produce of the earth so that we can feed the world; not just the parts of the world we like or who our media choose to tell us about.
This Sunday Cafod1 are collecting from those who took part in the Family Fast day last Friday (11th). Please give generously, even if you forgot to take part in the fast, I am certain they will still gratefully receive any money you wish to donate. There are certainly plenty of places in the world that need our help today.
The Gospel we hear today tells us of the time when Jesus took his most trusted disciples with him, He was transfigured and the Father announced who Jesus is – God’s Son, the Chosen One and telling us to “Listen to him.”
What is Jesus telling us; as Christians; in these troubled times? In our hearts what are we being urged to do? My advice is the same as last week where I said in my reflection “At times like this; more than any other time; we are called to put our faith into action. If we can donate money we should donate money, if we can donate goods which are needed then we should donate those goods, if we can donate our time to help, then we should donate our time. But ALL of us as a minimum should be storming heaven with prayer for peace.”
St Paul tells the Philippians that Jesus will “transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorified body.” He will do this for us as we became his adopted brothers and sisters through Baptism. We also need to obey the words spoken by Jesus’ Father as we hear in today’s Gospel ‘Listen to him’ and marry that together with the words spoken by Jesus’ Mother at the Wedding in Cana ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ [Jn 2:5]. By listening and then obeying the words of Jesus we too can share in that transfiguration; we too can have our wretched bodies turned into copies of the glorious body of the resurrected Christ.
What is Jesus saying to us today? How can we obey Him?
I know there are many people struggling with life today. This may be due to things which have happened, a fear of what may happen or just a thought that no one else cares. I want to reach out to anyone who finds themselves in that position today. Please know that God cares, we as Christians also care for you, we are praying for you’ and we are here for you. If you need help reach out, but please be assured, as Christians we are already praying for you and looking out to see if you are in need. We are sorry if you do not think we have seen you yet, but we are still looking, and we will keep looking until we find you. For we are followers of the Good Shepherd and just as He did not give up, neither will we.
I will finish with the words of another deacon, Deacon Bill McMillan “If we commit ourselves to prayer as often as we can, we too, like Christ can have our moments of transfiguration, when the touch of God could lift our darkness and melt away our fears.”2 God is the light who takes away all darkness, we are people of the light, in these darkest of times we are called to shine God’s light in the darkest of places, so that those who are struggling can have hope again; through that hope they can build trust, which God willing, will blossom into faith in the resurrected Lord.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)3
CCC 554-556, 568: the Transfiguration
CCC 59, 145-146, 2570-2572: the obedience of Abraham
CCC 1000: faith opens the way to comprehending the mystery of the Resurrection
CCC 645, 999-1001: the resurrection of the body
Please keep in your prayers
- The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- The five families due to start Baptism Preparation this Sunday and Allegro who is being Baptised at St Bede’s on Sunday.
- Those preparing for and attending the Big Picture sessions on Mondays.
- Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.
- Our Confirmation candidates as they continue their preparations.