In this annual series, current and former volunteers reflect on the Lenten Gospels and the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service: Social Justice, Simplicity, Community and Spirituality. Presented by Catholic Apostolate Center and Catholic Volunteer Network.
Second Sunday Lenten Reflection By Heidi Cerneka, Maryknoll Lay Missioners
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1-9)
Today’s Gospel calls us to recognize the presence of God among us, hear the voice of God commanding us to listen to Jesus’ message, and walk the road with Him. Similarly, the Transfiguration was not just a moment in the spotlight for Jesus, but a confirmation of God’s vibrant presence throughout the yet unfinished line of our history, from Moses and Elijah to the present. Jesus invited the disciples to climb the mountain with Him, but at the end of the day, they had to go back down the mountain and journey towards the passion and crucifixion. Talk about highs and lows!
The line of salvation history is long and unfinished. These are “Calvary” times. I work as an immigration attorney at the U.S. border and witness lives being shattered as migrants are denied a fair chance to ask for asylum as promised by national and international laws. Every day, Jesus, the Son of God, reveals Himself through people like Miriam, Jennifer, Juan, and Ali. St. Oscar Romero urges us, the people of God, to “come down from Tabor to Calvary” walking with Jesus, transfigured, bloodied, crucified and resurrected. God speaks to me “from the cloud” – if I pay attention. How do I hold firmly the belief that God is here right now in this Calvary moment in history and that the resurrection is not a hope, but a promise?
Loving God, in the Transfiguration, you are present and incarnate. Too often, we get sidetracked, wanting to “build booths on the mountain” and show others what we have experienced. Keep our sights on You. Help us to listen to You and to Your Beloved Son as you speak to us through our world and in unexpected ways. In these difficult times of violence, greed, individualism and separation, help us to be Your presence, to walk together as community, knowing the resurrection is the end of the story and we are called to bring it to reality right here, right now.
Focus on Spirituality
Jesus called Peter, James and John to stay focused. “Do not be afraid,” he said, but he also said not to go erecting booths or blogging about what they saw. This is not about who we tell, but about how we KNOW God, how we listen to Jesus incarnate and alive. We are not called to “stay on the mountain.” God constantly reveals Godself to us, and then we must come down from the mountain and live “God among us.” It will lead us to Calvary at times, but it will also lead us to the resurrection and life.
Jesus Christ Is manifest among us. We are the Body of Christ. This week, seek someone who you find difficult in your life. Try to find Christ present in her or him, and in some way, try also to show Christ’s presence to that person. Too often we close our minds and our hearts and lock onto what we “know” is the only answer. Engage in a conversation by listening first. God exhorts us to “listen” to Jesus. Do the same with someone you don’t know, or don’t know well enough.
Heidi Cerneka is an immigration attorney working with the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas. Prior to Las Americas, she spent over twenty years working as an advocate with incarcerated women in Latin America, the U.S. and Nairobi, Kenya. She also spent one year advocating with refugees in Kenya through Jesuit Refugee Services. She is currently a Maryknoll Lay Missioner and also taught high school in San Ignacio, Belize with the Jesuit International Volunteers from 1987-89.
Looking for more reflections like this one? We invite you to download our Lenten Reflection Guide in its entirety, available by clicking here. You can also find an extensive library of Lenten resources by visiting the Catholic Apostolate Center website – click here.
Listen to this reflection as a podcast! Click here!