Celebrating our Faith during COVID-19
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By Bishop Larry Silva
March 08, 2020
[Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Fremont, California]
What are you enslaved to?
We could all make our own lists, but people are often enslaved to pornography, which in fact empties them and exploits other people, and can be a great threat to marriages and family life. Others are enslaved to gossip and simply cannot resist sharing when they hear of some juicy story about someone else’s life. Others are addicted to drugs or alcohol. We can be addicted to work, to sports, or to the internet, all of which can be good things in themselves, but if overdone can take over our lives.
Moses was the great leader chosen by God to take the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt to freedom. We know that it was not a quick and easy process, and the people did not always want to go. There were times when the people were so frustrated with the journey to the Promised Land that they longed to go back to be slaves in Egypt. So it is that when we seek to be freed from whatever enslaves us, it is not an easy journey. Sometimes it is just so hard to change our ways that we would rather abandon the project of reform and just get used to being slaves forever.
What do we need to speak out about?
Our country and many others have lost such a respect for life that in the past 50 years or so, 60 million babies have been aborted. We think that suffering just cannot be a part of life, and so many anesthetize themselves from it by turning to drugs or alcohol; or they think that making their own decision to check out of life is the best way to go. We are overwhelmed with the number of homeless in our communities, and we know the problem is even worse in other places in the world. There is such incivility in our government and other institutions that nothing positive seems to be accomplished. We who see these things and know they are not right must speak out about them, even though we know our doing so will make us unpopular to many and may even bring us persecution.
Elijah was the great prophet who saw so many injustices being done among the people of Israel that he was compelled to raise his voice and confront these hipocracies among the Chosen People of God. When he did, he was criticized, imprisoned, and persecuted. Yet he knew that if the people were to truly be healthy and free, they needed to return to God and reform their ways.
Today we see both Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the prophets, speaking to Jesus, who shines with brilliance and who is affirmed from heaven by the voice of his Father. This was an event that deeply moved Peter, James and John, the three closest friends of Jesus. We believe that Jesus gave them this great vision on the mountaintop so that they could remember it when life became so dreadful that their Lord, in whom they had put all their trust, was crucified. He told them he would be raised from the dead, but they had no idea what that meant. Yet this experience of Jesus so enlightened them that they willingly took up the mission of going wherever the Lord led them, just as Abram had done many centuries before them. They were not afraid to be the new Moses, leading people out of their many slaveries into freedom. They were so moved by the brilliance of Jesus that they were not afraid to raise the voices to confront all the things in the world that rob human beings of their true dignity.
So it is that we are called to the mountaintop, to take a little time apart in a retreat, so that we can reflect more deeply on the Law and the prophets, and most of all, to be enlightened by the risen Jesus himself. We can be motivated by principles and felt needs, but there is nothing that motivates us like a relationship. If someone we love and whom we know loves us involves us in a project, we are much for willing to go. In fact, we want to go, so that the great love we feel can increase in us and be shared by others.
As we gather this week, we will try to let Jesus shine for us in a special way, so that seeing the brilliance of his light and love, we will want to dedicate ourselves more fully to leading ourselves and others out of slavery and confronting the people and institutions that enslave us. The Gospel we heard today of an incident that happened 2,000 years ago is the Good News for today as we gather on this mountaintop of the Eucharist, so that we can have a special glimpse of who Jesus really is as he offers himself to us in food and drink. We can open our eyes to him in a new way and see him in a new light, so that we can be renewed in his love. Then we can be strengthened to leave our comforts, as did our father Abram, and to be Moses and Elijah for today, and to show forth the glory of Christ by our lives.