Second Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Jerome,

I feel sad each time I see the world news that depicts tragedies in so many places. It is emotionally draining to read about violence, greed and oppression. The images of the war in Ukraine as Russia invades continue to unfold its cruelty and devastating results in the lives of many people. The Christian persecution in Myanmar, Africa, Thailand, and India goes on to take the lives of common believers. The organized crime of narcotraffickers in Latin America continues to create chaos and loss to those families whose members are being extorted, tortured, and often killed. The shootings in Chicago neighborhoods among gangs continue to take innocent lives in our communities. When shall this end? How can we alleviate the world from all this man-made violence that brings loss and suffering?

Perhaps my question sounds very unrealistic. We know the answer. There is no way that one single person can find the right solution to these tragedies and world problems. Though these issues may be insurmountable, our participation to ease the world from the painful results of violence should be our determination. Yes, no single person can find an antidote to the tragedies and brutalities that cause human suffering because it is our responsibility to find the right solution that generates peace and solidarity for humanity. Indeed, we need an experience of the Transfiguration.

The story that Saint Luke tells us this weekend about Jesus and His disciples as they went up atop the mountain highlights a very vivid illustration of the power of prayer. “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” (Lk.9:29) Could this also be an answer to my previous question while searching for the most practical solution to the violence that torments the world? If prayer changed the appearance of Jesus during His encounter with God, would it be true also to conclude that our encounter with God in prayer can change our hearts? Could this be the best option to call our human awareness to become instruments of peace and non-violence amid the hurting world?

We have gotten accustomed to believing that God needs our prayer. It is for this reason that we often doubt whenever we skip a day during a Novena prayer that God would grant us our wishes. We often tend to focus on completing a religious promise to the Mother of God or to a patron saint because some believe that an incompletion of a devotional promise may offend them badly. God and the saints do not operate that way. Instead, our sincere prayers create in us a sense of consciousness and security in the presence of God.

Prayer transforms us and confirms in us the image and likeness of God. As much as we think that we please God when we pray, it is in fact ourselves who benefit more from our prayers. That is why it is important to participate regularly during our Sunday communal worship. The promised presence of Jesus whenever there are two or three people gathered in His name transforms us into His image and likeness. Our gathering becomes Jesus among us during our public prayer. We are being Transfigured one way or another into the image that God intends us to be. God delights to see us being transformed into the image and likeness of His Son Jesus because the Blood that He shed is that which ratifies us as God’s children.

So, if prayer can transform us, would it be fair to say, then, that violence can be converted into peace by allowing the spirit of prayer to penetrate one’s soul? If every person lives in a spirit of prayer, then the world’s consciousness to exist like Christ would become a norm that transfigures each one of us into the likeness of the Prince of Peace.

This Second Sunday of Lent is a good time for us to check our current spiritual disposition. Is my prayer providing for me an experience of the Transfiguration?

I wish for you a blessed week.

Sincerely in Christ and Mary,