In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent, we see Jesus take his disciples, Peter and James, and his brother John up a high mountain, where they see Jesus transfigured and, with him, Moses and Elijah. This is a significant moment for the disciples as they come to better understand who Jesus is – that He represents the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. And to make sure the disciples have no question about who Jesus is, a voice booms from the sky and says:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – listen to Him.”
Peter recognizes the power of what they have experienced and simply says in a rather understated way: “Lord, it is good that we are here.” And they descend the mountain.
But, have you ever stopped to think about why so many important events in our salvation history take place on the mountain top? Moses ascended the mountain of the Lord to receive the ten commandments (Exodus 24:12-18). Elijah fled from Jezebel to Mount Horeb, where God spoke to him and gave him the courage to return to the Israelites and anoint their Kings and the prophet Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:8-18). The Ark with Noah and his family and all the animals came to rest on a mountain top (Genesis 8:4). Abraham climbed a high mountain as God instructed him, intending to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14). I’m sure you can think of similar examples in the Bible.
Now, I have never climbed a mountain (sometimes even a flight of stairs is too much)! But I do know that mountain climbing is extremely difficult and dangerous. It takes a great commitment to do it; it takes great faith to try to climb a mountain. We do know this: In each of the examples I listed above, great things happened because the people made the effort. It wasn’t always easy – for example, for Elijah and Abraham – but it was always worth the effort.
That’s what our Lenten journey is all about – about getting to a better place, a higher place. It’s about climbing the mountain. It’s about making the same effort that Moses, Elijah, Noah and Abraham made. And before you say, “They were special people with special gifts. I can’t do what they did," take a look back at each of their lives. They were regular people like you and me – they all had flaws and weaknesses. The difference is that they were willing to take a chance – willing to change.
As St. Paul points out in the second reading this week, we have been given the strength that comes from God, just like they had, and we have “the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.” We have all that we need to climb to a better place – we just need to do what God spoke from the clouds to the disciples - Listen to His Son.
Now go climb that mountain!