“Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
We are called to transform and be transformed
On the second Sunday of Lent, we hear the awesome story of Jesus' Transfiguration. The disciples – Peter, James, and John – went up a mountain and spent the night in prayer with Jesus. There they saw Jesus transformed in glory. “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” They saw the prophets of old talking with Jesus and heard the voice of God affirming Jesus as beloved.
The Transfiguration conveys two affirmations: God is with us and God can transform us.
It is a personal call to leave behind all that is useless, rise toward God and say as Peter said: “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire spoke at the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome about her personal transformation after three children of her sister were run over and killed by a car driven by a paramilitary fugitive who had been fatally shot by British troops. The children were eight years old, two years old, and six weeks old. In the days that followed, Mairead joined peace marches and co-founded Peace People, an organization which promotes ending violence through re-education – not more violence.
“I come from Northern Ireland and lived through the ‘troubles’ in Belfast, an area immersed in a violent ethnic and political conflict for over 30 years. More than 3,500 people were killed and thousands injured. In l969, the UK government sent in troops, removed basic civil liberties and carried out internment without trial and torture. Many young people joined armed groups, often in reaction to humiliation by troops who ignored their dignity and removed their basic human and civil rights.
“One young man, Danny, told me he joined the armed struggle because it was a ‘just war’ struggle. The Catholic Church, he said, blesses just wars. This conversation, with a teenager, arguing the just war theory, had a profound effect on me. Although I was Catholic, I had never read the just war theory and had not been taught Jesus’s nonviolence, much less a clear moral calling to reject violence and follow the Sermon on the Mount.
“Living in the midst of state violence I asked myself ‘Can I ever use violence in the face of injustice? Is there such a thing as just war, just violence?’
“Finally, I went to the cross and there found my answer: ‘Love your enemy. Do not kill.’ Nonviolence is the way of Jesus. Jesus suffering on the Cross, calling us to love our enemies, is the greatest symbol of nonviolent love in action. I also came to know that my life and every human life is sacred and we have no right to kill each other but must seek alternatives to violence.
“Militarism and para-militarism didn’t solve our problems, but only deepened hatred and division. When we entered into dialogue and worked on forgiveness and reconciliation change began. Peace came to Northern Ireland when we rejected the bomb and bullet and believed that peace is possible, peace is a human right for all.”
Questions for Reflection
Have you had a personal experience of transformation?
Who is the enemy in need of your love?
God of Nonviolence, Thank you for the gift of your love and your peace.
Give me the grace to live the life of Gospel nonviolence that I might be a faithful follower of the nonviolent Jesus.
Send the Holy Spirit of nonviolence upon me that I will love everyone, from my neighbor to my enemies, that I may see you in everyone, and know everyone as my sister and brother, and never hurt or fear anyone again.
Make me an instrument of your peace, that I might give my life in the struggle for justice and disarmament;
that I may work for the abolition of war, poverty, and nuclear weapons;
that I may always respond with love and never retaliate with violence;
that I may accept suffering in the struggle of justice and never inflict suffering or death on others;
that I may live more simply, in solidarity with the world's poor,
that I may defend the poor and resist systemic injustice and institutionalized violence,
that I may always choose life and resist the forces of death.
Guide me on the Way of nonviolence.
Help me to speak the truth of peace, to practice boundless compassion, to radiate unconditional love, to forgive everyone who ever hurt me, to embody your nonviolence, to walk with you in contemplative peace, to be your beloved servant and friend.
Disarm my heart, and I shall be your instrument to disarm other hearts and the world. Lead me, God of nonviolence, with the whole human family, into your nonviolent reign of justice and peace where there’s no more war, no more injustice, no more poverty, no more nuclear weapons, no more violence.
I ask this in the name of the nonviolent Jesus, our brother, and our peace. Amen.
– "Prayer of Nonviolence" by John Dear http://www.fatherjohndear.org/articles/nonviolence_prayer.htm
When facing a person with whom you are in conflict, put “love your enemy” into practice by offering an act of kindness.
Release your hostages today – forgive people you hold hostage to the past.
Host a viewing of The Sultan and the Saint, a film about St. Francis of Assisi. Gather with others to ask: How might the Holy Spirit be calling our faith community to be active peacemakers? https://www.sultanandthesaintfilm.com/
A Maryknoll Missioner says…
“Celina, a prisoner with whom I work in São Paulo, Brazil, recently said, ‘Sometimes I feel like the guards are in prison and I am free. I see them on their 12-hour shifts sitting in cold, dark spaces with so much anger that they try to take it out on us. I never let their negativity bring me down.’
“A native of Cape Verde, Celina is a teacher who is serving a five-year sentence for carrying drugs into Brazil. While in jail, she volunteers by co-facilitating a support group with me for new arrivals. Her reflections reminded me of the Robert Lentz icon titled "Christ in the Margins" (see photo above), which challenges us to reflect on the ways we all are imprisoned.”
– KATHLEEN BOND, Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Brazil