03 March 2012

What does 'rising from the dead' mean? Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Lent Year B

Transfiguration of Christ, Paolo Veronese, painted 1555-56
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 9:2-10 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. 'Rabbi', he said it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, 'This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.' Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what 'rising from the dead' could mean.
An Soiscéal Marcas 9:2-10 (Gaeilge, Irish)

San am sin rug Íosa leis Peadar, Séamas agus Eoin, agus sheol sé suas iad sliabh ard ar leithligh. Agus tháinig claochlú air os comhair a súl, agus d’éirigh a chuid éadaigh dealrach, iad gléigeal thar cuimse, nach bhfuil úcaire ar domhan a dhéanfadh chomh geal iad. Agus chonacthas dóibh Maois mar aon le hÉilias agus iad ag comhrá leis. Agus labhair Peadar le hÍosa: “A Mháistir, “ ar sé, “is maith mar a tharla anseo sinn: déanaimis trí bothanna, ceann duit féin, ceann do Mhaois agus ceann d’Éilias” – mar ní raibh a fhios aige cad ba mhaith dó a rá óir tháinig uamhan orthu. Agus tháinig scamall ina scáil anuas orthu, agus an glór as an scamall: “Is é seo mo Mhac muirneach dár thug mé gnaoi: éistigí leis!” Agus go tobann, ar dhearcadh dóibh ina dtimpeall, ní fhaca siad duine ar bith níos mó ach Íosa in éineacht leo ina aonar.

Ar a slí anuas dóibh ón sliabh, chuir sé mar acht orthu gan a raibh feicthe acu a insint do dhuine ar bith nó go mbeadh Mac an Duine éirithe ó mhairbh. Agus choinnigh siad an scéal chucu féin ach go mbídís ag fiafraí dá chéile cad ba chiall leis an éirí úd ó mhairbh.

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Clement Shahbaz Bhatti (9 September 1968 - 2 March 2011)
Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, Pakistan (2 November 2008 - 2 March 2011)

In today's first reading God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son 'on a height that I will point out to you'. We can only imagine the heartbreak of Abraham being asked by God to give offer his only son by Sarah his wife, born when both of them were very old. But God wasn't looking for the life of Isaac but for Abraham to submit himself to God's will, no matter the consequences. Abraham's sacrifice of his own will made him 'our Father in faith', as the Roman Canon says, the Father of countless Jews and Christians.

From the time of St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, down to our own day, God has been calling certain individuals to give up everything that is precious to them, including life itself, for the sake of others.

The struggle of Abraham is a sign of the struggle that Jesus would have to go through. Last Sunday we got a glimpse of his struggle in the desert where he was tempted by Satan, basically to abandon the mission the Father had given him. During Holy Week we will see is awful struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane and his cry from the Cross, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Each of us in some way has to share in that struggle, to let go of our own will in something big or small for the sake of others and to do what God want us to do.

Shahbaz Bhatti was living in a situation where he new that God might ask him to give up his own life. Less than two months before his own death, Governor Salmaan Taseer of Punjab, a Muslim, was murdered by one of his own security guards because of his opposition to Pakistan's Blasphemy Law.

Mr Bhatti was deeply committed to working for groups discriminated against, including the Christian minority in Pakistan. He gave as the reason for his commitment, I just want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am following Jesus Christ.

About a month before his death he gave an interview on TV, the concluding part of which is in this video. Below the video is a transcript of what Mr Bhatti said.


Minister Bhatti, you forgot one question in the interview. Your life is threatened by who and what sort of threats are you receiving?

The forces of violence, militant banned organizations, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda, they want to impose their radical philosophy on Pakistan. And whoever stands against their radical philosophy that threatens them, when I’m leading this campaign against the Sharia Law, for the abolishment (abolition) of (the) Blasphemy Law, and speaking for the oppressed, marginalized and persecuted Christian and other minorities, these Taliban threaten me.

But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of (the) Cross and I am following of the Cross and I am ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people and will die to defend their rights. So these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles. I will prefer to die for my principle and for the justice of my community rather to compromise on these threats.

Sts Peter, James and John, as they came down the mountain after having seen the Transfigured Jesus, wondered what 'rising from the dead' meant. A few weeks after the assassination of Clement Shahbaz Bhatti the bishops of Pakistan petitioned the Holy See to declare him a martyr. Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan, who drafted the petition, said, We Christians in Pakistan want to transform the death of Shahbaz Bhatti into a prophecy of the Resurrection. It was only after the Crucifixion that the Resurrection could occur and it was only after Easter Sunday that the Apostles found the answer to their question.

May each of us pray for the grace to make these words of Shahbaz Bhatti our own: I just want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am following Jesus Christ.

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Ooberfuse is an electro pop band based in London, England. Their female singer, Cherrie Anderson, is from the Philippine. They will sing at a peace rally in honour of Shabaz Bhatti in Trafalgar Square, London, on 10 March. They wrote His Blood Cries Out in his memory.




His Blood Cries Out
 
Verse 1.
These are the hands
They praise the life of you
These are the veins
Your life and love flow through
These are the words we try to write for you
We sing this song

Refrain/Chorus
His Blood Cries Out
His Blood Cries Out

Verse 2.
Peace is the star
That guides our hearts to you
Hear all the angels
How they sing for you
These are the words we try to write for you
Help us to erase
This war, this rage
We need to turn the page and
Find true peace within love's heart
In the silence hear the shout
His blood cries out
Refrain/Chorus
 
His blood cries out
His blood cries out

Verse 3.
These are the prayers
Helpless and the weak
His was the voice
For those that couldn't speak
For this we cry
Freedom, Love and Peace
What have you done
This war, this rage,
We need to turn the page and
Find true peace within love's heart
In the silence hear the shout
His blood cries out

Refrain/Chorus.
His blood cries out
His blood cries out.........

3 comments:

Anne said...

Well written song and well arranged. The lead singer has a powerful voice giving life to the lyrics. Something that could really bring out the emotions.

Indeed I see Jesus in Clement Shahbaz Bhatti's life. Thank you for sharing his words, Father. I have something concrete to reflect on as I sit with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane this season of Lent.

Jackie Parkes said...

Magnificent post!

Priests Housekeeper said...

This is a brilliant post Father, it certainly made me sit up and think and you have given us so much to reflect upon.
Thank you or sharing.
Blessings and prayers,
Ann