MT. 17:1-9


Lent is a season of intense prayer for us Christians, but especially for us Catholics. From the earliest time, it was considered an extended spiritual retreat of 40 days. Of course, not to be forgotten are the two other pillars of Lent – fasting and almsgiving.


What is prayer? For us who have grown up Catholic, surrounded by dogmas and traditions, we are tempted to think of prayer as an activity. So as Lent comes, we think of dusting off those inherited prayer books on our shelves, looking for the Stations of the Cross page. We begin preparing the devotional “Pasyon” for the ritual family and community singing of the Passion of the Lord.


St. John of the Cross taught that prayer, above all, is presence. It is not about words, prostrations, emotions, or commotion. Prayer is a special awareness and acknowledgement that God is here with us. He is before us and we are in his presence. How beautiful can that experience be?


In today’s gospel about the Transfiguration, let us notice that Elijah and Moses suddenly appeared to be in the presence of the Lord Jesus. They silently recognize the fulfillment of all their life’s work. The three apostles were also present before the vision, witnessing a marvel so fleeting and yet so energizing for the rest of their lives. They marveled at its meaning and Peter was totally confused.


The Heavenly Father was present to his Son Jesus, confirming his identity and mission, glorifying him and strengthening him. Jesus was at the center of the spectacle. He too was present before his Father, and before the figures of the Old Testament. Finally, he was present to his trembling apostles, saying to them: Do not be afraid!


Prayer is presence, we need to be reminded of that. It is not primarily “our” presence before the Lord, but his loving presence before us. In prayer, there is no need to fear. We can bring out all our failures, sins, weaknesses, malice, bad habits and attitudes and lay them at the feet of the one who tells us that we are not condemned but loved.


Lent is not so much about pious words nor penitential actions. Let us try our best to drop by our church and sit or kneel quietly in a corner and let our hearts speak to the Heart. Let us look for a quiet spot in our home with our Bible or Rosary and just quietly experience Jesus joining us. In that encounter, we are sure to hear his loving, assuring words… “Do not be afraid.”


#ourparishpriest 2023