Rise and Do Not Be Afraid

After a long summer break, I smiled as I got into the car this morning to head to church for our Encounter With Christ.  Finally! Enough of us were in town to meet! Of course my tank was on empty, but I smiled as I pulled over to refuel my car, knowing that my soul was getting its turn to “refuel” soon as well. Happy. Happy. Happy. I needed my Encounter! Ironically, listening to Joel Osteen in the car on the way, he was talking about getting a “new anointing“, like David did in the Old Testament.  It was time to get back to business, refresh, begin again after the stagnant summer left me thirsting for fellowship. A new anointing for the school year with my sisters in Christ.

Sunday, the church will celebrate Christ’s TRANSFIGURATION.  Three of the disciples witness some incredible events after following Jesus on a long walk up a mountain.  Transfiguration means “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state”.  As we prepare to enter into the prayer for the Holy Mass on Sunday, we took some time to meditate on this pinnacle scene.

The Transfiguration of Jesus. After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. (NABRE version)

Reflections (combined here for fluidity):

  • Putting ourselves into this scene, can we contemplate what it must have been like for these three disciples to really witness the arrival of Elijah and Moses?  How did they know it was them? Being familiar with the teachings of their faith they must have had some sense of these important holy figures. They had a desire to have them stay, and Peter even offers to make tents to host them.  They heard a voice coming from a cloud which frightened them, and caused them to fall prostrate.  Jesus reminds them not to be afraid.  How many times does the New Testament speak to us about rejecting our fears and to not be afraid? (I later found different answers depending on bible versions, but some say as many as 365! One for each day of the year)
  • The three Disciples are in fear as they lay on the ground, after hearing a voice from a cloud, and seeing Moses and Elijah that just appeared from nowhere, and yet after Jesus says “Rise and do not be afraid”, they look and see just Jesus standing alone.  How many times am I afraid, and yet all I need to do is raise my head and focus on Jesus alone?
  • Peter’s invitation to build three tents always stands out; is it a nervous human reaction to this astonishing scene?  Is it a gracious invitation with a sense of hospitality, as one might do for an honored guest?  Another revelation is that perhaps it could represent for us to build three “tents”/sacred places in our hearts , one each to host the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
    •  The deep mystery of the trinity is always an endless source of meditation.  Spending time with each member of the Trinity helps us to deepen different parts of our faith perhaps, depending on what we are going through in our lives, what we need, or how we should be open to conversion of our own transformation through the power of God.

As we continued to contemplate the great mysteries of this scene in our hearts, we moved ahead to discuss a case study (a story that we have seen/read/heard in the world that demonstrates heroic faith, exemplary action, or great change because of faith).  Our case study today was about a woman had a dream to see a big bus that would go around town and offer services to help women in crisis pregnancies, such as supportive counseling and ultrasounds.  She realized that what had previously been an alternative option to Planned Parenthood for women in a crisis pregnancy, was now closed down.

She had nurtured women in this situation before in her church, and felt a calling to give more women help and support.

Recently, she had come to know a woman, pregnant and afraid, and in need of support who she counseled and assisted, and even organized a baby shower for her and another woman in the same situation.  Many people showed up to support the women from the parish.  Shortly before everyone had left, she was moving about wrapping up left over food to take to families who she knew were in need.  It was said that she never misses an opportunity to serve; always looking for the next need to fill.

Once the baby was born, a baptism was arranged at the church and many attended who did not know the mother, but wanted to support her (like the baby shower).  One man who had heard what the woman had been through, and how she had chosen to give life to her unborn baby despite her circumstances, came forward and told the pastor of the church to let him know if this new mother ever needed anything; an ongoing spiritual and financial supporter, who was moved by her generosity in giving her baby a chance at life.  God provides.

Walking through this crisis pregnancy with this new mother who had been so in need of support and encouragement,  further cultured the dream of the woman for her crisis-pregnancy “mobile ministry”.  A large benefit Gala was held and drew in a huge amount of financial and spiritual support; enough to purchase the vehicle itself.  This month, the  bus will be commissioned and her ministry will hit the streets as she had dreamed it would.

Similar cases were discussed, including the case of Abby Johnson (http://www.abbyjohnson.org/); and a woman in Ohio who decided to use her post-abortive healing to begin a ministry to educate women on the cultural deceptions of abortion and how it affected her life.

Overall, we felt the greatest magnitude of virtue was charity in seeking to care for women in distress, especially in walking the rest of the way with them through their deliveries, baptisms, and even bringing food to those she knew were in need.  Moreover, the human virtue of OBEDIENCE is what made this woman’s actions so astonishing to us. Several virtues play in to heeding the directives God can give us and carry them out obediently.  For our resolve, we chose to imitate the actions of the woman in this case with the following:

Apostolic:  We chose to seek Christ in the Eucharist this week by way of mass or a chapel visit, with the intention of seeking what his will is for us in carrying out an act of charity.

Prayer: We chose the following prayer to ask for guidance every day for the next week:

Prayer to Begin the Day

My Lord and Father, inspire my thoughts, words, and actions, and accompany them with your aid, so that I undertake all my activities and carry them through according to your will and out of love for you.  I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

As always, if you are part of our group and missed our meeting, or wish to virtually join us in our prayer intentions and resolutions for the week, we invite you to please unite spiritually with us!

 

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