20-Feb-2018 Dear Friend, There are times in our lives when God seems to be asking us to make difficult and cruel choices, almost impossible ones! How can God be asking something difficult from us? Why can’t He be reasonable? If only we could have the ecstasy without the agony! Yet we all know that in life there is no escaping from the difficult situations that come our way. Only our faith and love can transfigure our crosses. May we have a transfiguring weekend! –Fr. Jude Sun. Refl. 2nd Sunday of Lent “By accepting the Cross will we be transfigured.” 25-Feb-2018 Gen: 22: 1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Romans 8: 31-34; Mark 9: 2-10; In the first reading we are told that God put Abraham to the test by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Surely God could not be asking such an unreasonable thing. After all, his son Isaac, was given to him as a promise. How could God go back on his promise? The other question we could ask is: How and why was Abraham so ready to comply? The only answer to these questions is the tremendous faith of Abraham and the passionate love of God. God spared Isaac and instead provided the lamb of sacrifice. Although God spared the only son of Abraham, He did not intervene to spare His own son Jesus Christ. Victim or VictorCharles Rayburn has been a victim of cerebral palsy since his birth. His only means of communication was an electric typewriter which he strikes with a stylus attached to a band around his head. In spite of his palsy, Charles Rayburn has published 37 articles in national magazines. One of his articles appeared in America Magazine and dealt with the Stations of the Cross. Charles Rayburn is a living example of today’s reading about Isaac and Jesus. These three figures and the three readings are tied together by a triple theme –the theme of Son-ship, Death and Deliverance.Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’ In today’s gospel the account of the transfiguration gives us some insight into the mystery of Jesus, Son of God. The transfiguration is an epiphany story. This is the earliest epiphany story about Jesus, where the veil is lifted and his apostles were given a glimpse of his future glory. The chief significance of this event was for Jesus himself. It was meant to confirm him in the course he had undertaken. But it also benefited the apostles, and it is this that Mark emphasizes. On the mountain Elijah and Moses appeared to them representing the prophets and the law respectively. Thus Jesus is seen as bringing the law and the prophets to fulfillment. We do not know what exactly happened on that mountain but it seems Jesus had an intense experience of the presence of God. He heard those marvelous words: “You are my beloved Son.” On Tabor Jesus felt comforted and affirmed. He knew that the Father was pleased with him and would give him all the strength he would need to face whatever lay ahead. With God on his side he could face anything. At times, life could be dark for us and we too need to hear those reassuring words: “You are my son the beloved, my favour rests on you.” People from time to time do affirm us, but their affirmation is conditional. “You are good but you need to change your behavior”! “You are good but only if you live up to my expectations!” Only God affirms us exactly as he affirmed his son Jesus. With him there are no terms and conditions even if we are sinners and have failed him. We will always remain the well beloved sons and daughters of God. On that mountain the Father affirmed Jesus and that same Father is waiting for us to come to him to be affirmed as his well beloved sons and daughters. Our problem is that as soon as we run into trouble our faith fails us. We think that God has abandoned us. But if we pray we will realize that God has not abandoned us, He is always with us. Like Jesus on Tabor we too can experience being affirmed by God, we too can be transformed by the power of his Spirit, if only we let Him into our lives. Affirmed by my fatherSr. Helen Prejean is well known in America for her work with prisoners on death row. The film Dead Man Walking tells the story of one man (Robert) she accompanied during the months leading to his execution. She noticed how Robert clung to one of the wardens, who were a kind and fatherly figure. She saw this as a cry for a father’s love he had never known. His father spent 27 of his 53 years in prison. This led Helen to reflect on the beautiful relationship she had with her father. She says, “It has to be one of life’s most precious feelings to know that your father is proud of you. I was my dad’s scholar, his scribe who kept the travel diary on family vacations. He always had a special tone in his voice when he introduced me to friends and colleagues: “And this is my little daughter, Helen.” In the presence of strangers I would fall silent, standing close against him, my hand holding on tightly to his. Afterwards I would squeeze his hand tighter than ever and teem once more with chatter and questions. A child can sail on to the moon with that feeling of security from a father.” Helen Prejean felt she could do anything, face anything, on the strength of her father’s love and security. Surely, we can do even better knowing God is on our side.Flor McCarthy on ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’ You are my beloved!You probably have heard of Jean Vanier who set up communities for the mentally handicapped. He tells us that in one of those communities there was a man named Pierre. One day someone asked, “Pierre, do you like praying?” “Yes,” he answered. “And what do you do when you pray?” “I listen,” answered Pierre. “And what does God say to you, Pierre?” And this was his touching reply, “Pierre, you are my beloved son.”Jean Vanier “Listen to Him!”Perhaps you have heard of the man who wanted to test his wife’s hearing. He stood some distance behind her and said, “Honey, can you hear me?” Having received no answer he moved closer and again whispered, “Honey, can you hear me?” Again having received no answer he moved right up behind her and softly said, “Honey can you hear me?” She replied, “For the third time, yes!” – In some ways this story could be analogous to our communication with God. We constantly check to see if he is listening in hopes that he will respond to our needs. In reality, he hears us, but he has asked us to listen to him as well. Lent should be a listening time for each of us. When we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives.John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’ No Cross, No CrownArthur Ashe, the legendary Afro-American Wimbledon player was dying of cancer. He received letters from his fans worldwide, one of which read: “Why did God select you for such a dreadful disease?” Ashe replied, “The world over, 5 crore children start playing tennis, 50 lakhs learn the game, 5 lakh turn professional, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5,000 reach Grand Slams, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to the semifinals, 2 to the finals. When I won the Wimbledon crown, I never asked God, “Why me?” Today, in pain, I shouldn’t be asking God, “Why me?” Wimbledon crown, cancer cross. That’s Christianity!Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’ Keeping the CommandmentsOnce there was a very sincere man who wished to live a holy life. So he went to his rabbi to seek his advice. The rabbi congratulated him on his ambition, then asked, ‘How have you been faring so far?’ ‘Quite well, I think,’ the man replied. ‘When you say well what do you mean?’ the rabbi asked. ‘I haven’t broken any of the commandments,’ the man replied. ‘I haven’t taken the Lord’s name in vain. I haven’t dishonored my father or mother. I haven’t killed anyone. I haven’t been unfaithful to my wife. I haven’t stolen. I haven’t borne false witness against anyone. And I haven’t coveted my neighbour’s wife or goods.’ ‘I see,’ said the rabbi. ‘So you haven’t broken any of the commandments.’ ‘That’s right, the man replied with pride. ‘But have you kept the commandments?’ the rabbi asked. ‘What do you mean?’ said the man. ‘I mean have you honoured God’s holy name? Have you kept holy the Sabbath day? Have you loved and honoured your parents? Have you sought to preserve and defend life? When last did you tell your wife that you loved her? Have you shared your goods with the poor? Have you defended the good name of anyone? When last did you put yourself out to help a neighbour?’ The man was taken aback. But to his credit he went away and reflected on what the rabbi had said. He realized that up to this time he had been merely intent on avoiding wrong-doing. It’s surprising how many people think this is the highest criterion of virtue. But the rabbi offered him a new vision of goodness – not merely to avoid evil, but to do good. Up to now he had a negative concept of goodness. He had given him a new and better compass to guide him, a new and more challenging path to follow.Flor McCarthy in ‘Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’ The Father’s belovedThe story is told of a sister at the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec. She saw a distraught mother carrying a tiny child and she went to meet her. The woman had come a great distance with the child, the only one she could ever have, she thought, and now he had an affliction which the doctors said was incurable. The only hope was a miracle, and she had brought the child to St. Anne’s to pray for that. The sister accompanied the mother to the shrine. “As we prayed” the sister said, “I witnessed the struggle and rebellion of this woman refusing to give up her child. Her suffering was terrible to see. Yet the miracle came. But it came to the mother, not the child. When she left I knew she had offered her child back to God and surrendered him as a gift. A few weeks later the news came that the child died. But the following Christmas there came a card with the picture of a beautiful baby boy, whom the mother had named Michael, the same name she had given to her first son. And the mother wrote: “Now I have a son in heaven and a son Michael to give me joy on earth.”Emeric Lawrence in ‘Daily Meditations for Lent’ May we hear the Father affirming us saying: “You are my beloved, my favour rests on you!” Fr. Jude Botelho botelhoj...@gmail.com PS. The stories, incidents and anecdotes used in the reflections have been collected over the years from books as well as from sources over the net and from e-mails received. Every effort is made to acknowledge authors whenever possible. If you send in stories or illustrations I would be grateful if you could quote the source as well so that they can be acknowledged if used in these reflections.These reflections are also available on my Web site www.NetForLife.net Thank you.