23 February 2024

'I just want a place at the feet of Jesus.' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B


The Transfiguration
Blessed Fra Angelico [Web Gallery of Art]

Fra Angelico (c.1395 - 18 February 1455) was an Italian Dominican friar. He was beatified by Pope St John Paul 11 on 3 October 1992 and his feast day is observed on 18 February.

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Gospel Mark 9:2-10 (English Standard Version Anglicised, India)

After six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son;[c] listen to him. And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.

Léachtaí i nGaeilge

Assumpsit Iesus Petrum
Sebastián de Vivanco (Ávila, 1551 - Salamanca, 1622)
Música Reservata de Barcelona directed by Bruno Turner

Assumpsit Iesus Petrum, et Iacobum et Ioannem fratrem eius, et duxit eos in montem excelsum seorsum, et transfiguratus est ante eos.

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

Et ecce vox de nube dicens: His est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complauci, ipsum audite.

And a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him" (Mark 10: 2,7).

Servant of God Clement Shahbaz Bhatti [Wikipedia]
(9 September 1968 - 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. Muslims also venerate him.

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 his 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 knew that God might ask him to give up his own life. Less than two months before his 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 only 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. (These words were quoted in the reflection on the Second Station of the Cross in the Colosseum in Rome led by Pope Francis on Good Friday 2015.) He was gunned down on 2 March 2011 in  Islamabad, just after leaving his mother's home.

In the video below Shahbaz Bhatti speaks about the possibility of his death. A note with the video says :Bhatti's close colleague shared the video with Al Jazeera saying that Bhatti had requested him to do so in the eventuality of his assassination because 'it is with the Muslim world I want to share the message of love. That is the only message that can bring the Muslim world out of the circle of hate and killings'.

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of this video.

[Update: Benedict Rogers, a close friend of Shahbaz Bhatti, in an article published on 2 March 2021 writes about this interview: Four months before his murder, he recorded an interview with the BBC for broadcast in the event of his death.]

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 whom 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 and marginalized, 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 I 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 [than] to compromise on these threats.

Sts Peter, James and John, as they came down the mountain after having seen the Transfigured Jesus, wondered what 'risen 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. On 2 March 2016, the fifth anniversary of his death, the Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi began collecting testimonies about Shahbaz Bhatti to inquire into his martyrdom and sanctity.

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.

Christ in the House of Mary and Martha (detail)
Velázquez  [Web Gallery of Art]

Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching (Luke 10:39).

I just want a place at the feet of Jesus (Shahbaz Bhatti).


On 18 February The Catholic Herald (England) posted this story on their website: Report: 8,000 Christians murdered in worst year for Islamist attacks.

Traditional Latin Mass

Second Sunday in Lent

The complete Mass in Latin and English is here. (Adjust the date at the top of that page to 2-25-2024 if necessary).

Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7. Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9. 

Marco Benefial [Web Gallery of Art]

After six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart (Matthew 17:1; Gospel).


1 comment:

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Father Seán,
Yes, getting a place at the feet of Jesus is quite a statement!
Shabbaz Bhatti was a strong Christian and follower of Jesus and he KNEW what the price would be. Great courage and I only wish, more people would view this video...
Jesus' Transfiguration is something we cannot imagine 'yet' but our Faith will lead us the the answer.