Following is an edited version of the homily preached by Arima/Malabar parish moderator Fr Steve Duncan on the weekend of the Second Sunday of Lent (February 24–25).
Oh! how wonderful it is for us to be in the presence of the Lord, wonderful for us to be here during the Season of Lent and ponder the meaning of the Transfiguration in our land. It is wonderful for us to be resident and alive in sweet T&T, even as we see and hear about the gruesome deaths and spate of violence occurring in our community and country.
A young man was killed in east POS and there followed an overflow of protesting residents in the streets of that area, sending panic in some areas of the country and causing me to think of the Canboulay Riots re-enacted there early on Carnival Friday morning.
Mere hours after that unfortunate incident, in Trinidad’s eastern district, our own Kevin Horsford, a former and outstanding altar server of the parish of Santa Rosa, was shot dead at his home. We cannot isolate those incidents from the many others occurring in all corners of this land. What is this that is unfolding before our eyes? Where are we going as a nation? What clouds of gathering gloom seem to have engulfed us? We don’t know what to think or say.
That transfiguration of alarming destruction is not a reality which makes us want to stay and build tents in our communities, villages, cities and towns. Rather, it may have the opposite effect of producing fear, us wanting to flee from this wonderful place.
And, if the reports of official advisories to visitors and tourists to this country hold any traction, it might very well be an indication for and challenge to the national community to be transfigured from the inside out. But that is a process which begins from the inside of every conscious citizen, living in the presence of God and coming to see and experience God’s glory in this land. It will not happen through external means.
It is wonderful for us to be here, here in T&T when we can “stand together for what we believe [and] work for what must be done; love each other in all that we do, till all [God’s] people are one”! It is wonderful for us to be here “to try a little kindness, show a little kindness [and]shine our light for everyone to see”! It is time to put on the garment of love of neighbour and keep it on!
“His [Jesus’] clothes became dazzlingly white; whiter than any earthly bleacher can make them.” Jesus was wearing the same clothes but Peter, James and John saw another aspect: the more beautiful and wonderful side of the garment and the person wearing the garment. You see, the Transfiguration, was meant to show that “even by the testimony of the Law and the prophets, that the passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.”
Now, if we believe that the passion of Jesus leads to the glory of His Resurrection, we have an excellent opportunity now to demonstrate through the placard of authentic faith in Jesus who is Resurrection and Life, that even in the midst of this agonising period of our country’s history, there is something to celebrate.
Indeed, in many cases, it could have been worse but those stories of victory and triumph above the might and barrel of the gun or blade of the knife; those stories of persons who were victims of violence but who—by God’s mercy and protecting angels survived—did not and will not make the ‘front page’ of our newspapers as Dwayne O’Connor tried to make us aware in his 2018 calypso.
And yet, God has allowed victims the strength to tell their stories of His Grace at work in their lives at the point of their need. When there seems to be nothing else that can be done, God shows up and those who have plotted evil are not able to raise a hand against God’s chosen people. But you see, God has the bigger plan: to shower blessings and make this land prosper!
In these times, Christian believers and all people of goodwill are challenged not to be defeatist in outlook and mentality but know that in Jesus, we have the victory! This is a time to listen to and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide our going and coming.
In these times, the faith of the Christian can be a blessing to many who may be despairing. In the midst of the killings, there is a survivor with a story to tell of being alive and feeling free because Jesus stepped in when s/he called on God’s Name! Somebody is waiting with a testimony!
Somebody out there might just be waiting to hear a consoling word, to be assured of a supporting presence, to be shown a sign of solidarity, to receive a kind visit; someone might just be waiting for someone of faith to pass by and leave a mark of transfiguration in his/her situation. Do we have the time to listen and listen deeply to the voices saying “I trusted even when I said I am sorely afflicted. Oh precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful”?
Could this be a time of testing for us? Could this be a time when—as Christian believers—we hear the Lord calling, just as God called out to Abraham, our father in faith, asking him to surrender his prized possession, his only son Isaac, and then, in the midst of that agonising decision, seeing God’s glory at work in his life?
The resounding voice affirming Jesus as the Beloved Son of God, inwardly stirred Peter, James and John. It was like a consuming ‘fire in the belly’, opening their eyes to discovering the wonder of God’s love towards them. They wanted to contain the moment but was that desire a test of their own faith?
May God’s living Word bring us to deeper faith and cause us to behold the active and living presence of God in this land. May we give God the praise and glory onto His holy name, for it is wonderful for us to be here in the land of the living!
In these times, Christian believers and all people of goodwill are challenged not to be defeatist in outlook and mentality but know that in Jesus, we have the victory!