A cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
The Beloved Son and Beloved Community
This week we hear the awe-inspiring story of Jesus' Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John went up a mountain and spent the night in prayer with Jesus. There they saw Jesus transformed in glory and the prophets of old talking with him. “Then from a cloud came a voice: ‘This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.’”
The Transfiguration conveys two affirmations: God is with us and God can transform us.
When Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here,” Jesus gives him a firm rebuke. Maryknoll Father Stephen Judd in Bolivia points to the teaching of Spanish Scripture scholar, José Antonio Pagola, on the message of the Transfiguration: Listen to Jesus’ words and apply them in creating the kinds of right relationships that build communities in the here and now. “Peter’s mistaken attitude is one of exclusion, wanting to hoard the presence of Jesus for a select group of followers,” Father Judd says.
Father Judd also reminds us of Pope Francis’ warning against exclusivity in our relationships, which the pope calls ‘the globalization of indifference’. “How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live; we don’t care; we don’t protect what God created for everyone, and we end up unable even to care for one another!” Pope Francis said.
This fits well with Dr. King’s second principle of nonviolence: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation and the purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.
As explained by The King Center, “Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth.” Fundamental to the concept of the Beloved Community is inclusiveness, both economic and social. At the same time, Dr. King believed “conflicts could be resolved peacefully and adversaries could be reconciled through a mutual, determined commitment to nonviolence.”
The central vision of world history in the Bible is that all of creation is one, Walter Brueggemann writes in Living Toward a Vision: Biblical Reflections on Shalom. “Every creature in community with every other, living in harmony and security toward the joy and well-being of every other creature.” … “That persistent vision of joy, well-being, harmony, and prosperity is not captured in any single word or idea in the Bible; a cluster of words is required to express its many dimensions and subtle nuances: love, loyalty, truth, grace, salvation, justice, blessing, righteousness. But the term that in recent discussion has been used to summarize that controlling vision is shalom.”
When asked years later what he saw as a vision of shalom for Christians today, Brueggemann said, “I think it means peaceable life together among the nations and tribes and religious traditions, and economic justice so that everybody has enough resources to live a life of safety and dignity.”
Questions for Reflection
Where do you see the Beloved Community in your life?
What inspires you toward a vision of shalom?
When the world spins crazy,
spins wild and out of control
spins toward rage and hate and violence,
spins beyond our wisdom and nearly beyond our faith,
when the world spins in chaos as it does now among us…
We are glad for sobering roots that provide ballast in the storm.
So we thank you for our rootage in communities of faith,
for our many fathers and mothers who have believed and trusted as firm witnesses to us,
for their many stories of wonder, awe, and healing.
We are glad this night in this company
for the rootage of the text,
for the daring testimony,
for its deep commands,
for its exuberant tales.
Because we know that as we probe deep into this text…
clear to its bottom,
we will find you hiding there,
we will find you showing yourself there,
speaking as you do,
And when we meet you hiddenly,
we find the spin not so unnerving,
because from you the world again has a chance
for life and sense and wholeness.
We pray midst the spinning, not yet unnerved,
but waiting and watching and listening,
for you are the truth that contains all our spin. Amen.
“When the World Spins Crazy” by Walter Brueggemann, written shortly after 9/11, from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann
When facing a person with whom you are in conflict, put “love your enemy” into practice by offering an act of kindness.
Take special care of your relationship with water, a sacred and essential part of life to be shared by the Beloved Community. Examine your use of water and conserve.
March 22 is World Water Day.
Learn about the sacred role of water for all life: http://bit.ly/MaryknollWater
Find resources for taking action on March 22: http://www.worldwaterday.org/
Watch “The Story of Bottled Water” http://bit.ly/StoryBottled
A Maryknoll Missioner says...
“My own experience living for more than 10 years in what is now South Sudan revealed to me a deep reality of living with trust and without it – especially between Muslims and non-Muslims.
“Often the trust that Jesus speaks about is found on the individual level or among members of smaller groups. It can begin with common courtesies like a greeting, a sign of respect, or an offer of some water to quench one’s thirst and go forward from there developing into a true friendship in which there is understanding and dialogue. This is what Jesus means when he says ‘if you can trust a person in little things, you can trust that person in greater.’
“In cases where there is little or no trust then there is the chance of creating enemies – very often leading to great fear and harm to others. The relationship of distrust between two persons or groups of people is against God’s plan of creation. We were not created to oppose or oppress others but to live in harmony, and this is only possible when there is trust.”
–FATHER THOMAS TISCORNIA, MM
Pictured on right in vestments in South Sudan