The Transfiguration of the Lord

The first three Gospels contain a number of passages that show Jesus’ divinity shining through his humanity. One of these is the passage on the Transfiguration. Some time before he died on the cross, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain— probably Mount Tabor. There, while the apostles watched, Jesus’ face began to shine much more brightly than the sun. His garments became as white as snow.

Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared, standing on each side of Jesus. The three of them talked together for a brief time about Jesus’ coming passion and death. Then Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4).

While Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud gathered and covered the apostles with its shadow. Then the apostles heard a voice saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5). Peter, James, and John fell to the ground because they were so frightened. The next moment Jesus touched them and told them not to fear. When they looked up, there was no one in sight except Jesus, looking like his ordinary self.

As they walked down the mountain, Jesus told the favored three to keep the whole experience a secret. They were permitted to tell others only after he had risen from the dead. Perhaps Jesus gave these apostles a glimpse of his divine identity in order to strengthen their faith in preparation for the ordeals of his coming passion and death.

© 2017 Loyola Press. All rights reserved. 

Overcoming Human Trafficking

by Debbie Shinskie

At the local abortion facility, an older man drives a car with four young women in the back into the patient parking lot. Those praying on the sidewalk are concerned, not only with the fact that they are entering an abortion facility, but also with the suspicious dynamics in this group. In a separate incident, across town at the Catholic pregnancy health care center, a woman breaks down and shares with the nurse that a man is selling her for sex and she might be pregnant. The Archdiocese of New Orleans Respect Life Office’s active engagement in a human trafficking awareness campaign helped those praying on the sidewalk and the pregnancy center staff to recognize the signs of human trafficking and make appropriate calls to report it. Through a collaborative effort with local service providers, the young woman at the health center was quickly relocated to a safe house for sex trafficking victims.

New Orleans is a known destination for human trafficking. The popular, tourist-driven economy and convenient location allow for a “market” for both buyers and sellers of these victims. Sadly, it’s a microcosm of the trafficking going on across the country. Statistics gathered from the Polaris Project’s National Human Trafficking Hotline reveal that most of the US female human trafficking victims are sold for sex, often multiple times each day, up to seven days a week. According to current research, female victims are very likely to conceive a child at some point, even if they regularly use birth control. Traffickers often force these women to then abort any child conceived. So, fighting the modern-day slavery of human trafficking is a deeply pro-life endeavor—for women and their unborn children, alike. Dioceses around the country are developing various ways to respond to this urgent situation.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans’ local response is part of a comprehensive approach modeled on the US bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, the Catholic blueprint for respect life activities at the national and local levels. In addition to raising public awareness about sex trafficking, the multi-faceted approach includes a trainthe-trainer element. Recent statistics indicate that 87 percent of trafficking survivors had contact with a healthcare provider during the time they were being trafficked, with 57 percent of these situations involving a women’s clinic, urgent care facility, or some other type of neighborhood clinic. Catholic healthcare providers, those who pray and counsel outside abortion facilities, and others who might encounter trafficking victims are getting the training they need to recognize and assist victims. Raising awareness about human trafficking helps us partner with care providers through our donations and services for victims and survivors.

It also serves our advocacy efforts at the local, state, and federal levels to affect changes legislatively. Finally, the foundational work of prayer cannot be emphasized enough. This has grown into a whole new ministry, our Respect Life Prayer Team. Orchestrated by one of our Human Trafficking Committee members, the team leads a prayer effort involving hundreds around the archdiocese, including those who are retired, physically challenged, homebound, in assisted care residences, and others who cannot otherwise participate in this work. The Church will keep fighting this evil hidden in plain sight. In addition to praying for the development of effective ministries for sex trafficking victims, check with your local diocese to see what resources are available for those most at risk. Debbie Shinskie is director of the Archdiocese of New Orleans Respect Life Office.

For more on the US bishops’ efforts and resources to combat human trafficking, visit stopslavery.