February 24, 2013


Jesus took Peter, John & James, & went up onto a mountain to pray.

– Luke 9: 28

   There is a story about a father & his teenage son frequently at odds with each other who took a camping trip to a mountain a few hundred miles away from their home. For a week the walked & talked as they forded streams & tramped through thick brush. Slowly they began to see each other as genuine human beings, each with his own individual fears & hopes & loves. The trip became a turning point in their lives, & thereafter when a problem or disagreement arose between them, one or the other would say, “Remember the mountain!” What began as a camping trip had been transformed into a mountain top experience.

   Today’s Gospel tells how a trip up another mountain became a revelatory experience for both Jesus & His disciples. What happened there was a tremendous gift of God’s grace – something they all needed at the time.

   Jesus was headed for Jerusalem, & knowing what awaited Him there, he was distressed by the prospect. The disciples too were confused & upset by His talk of betrayal & dying, & they couldn’t help but wonder what was in store for them. At that crucial moment, God opened the door of heaven just a crack, giving them a sneak preview (as it were) of the resurrection. At the transfiguration, the same words given at Jesus’ baptism are repeated to let them know that He is still God’s chosen one.

   We too need our mountaintop experiences. Just as Jesus needed the grace of a new vision, new encouragement, motivation & assurance, so do we. Perhaps we have known such times of powerful spiritual uplift in our lives. It may have come in a time of prayer when God seemed so close that one could almost reach out & touch Him. Perhaps it came during worship, when the Spirit touched a responsive chord in us, thereby transforming frustration into expectation, despair into hope. Maybe it came at the birth of a new child, when we rejoiced at the miracle. It may have been in a time of desperate need, standing beside a hospital bed, acutely aware of our helplessness & utter dependence upon God to give meaning to the fundamental issues of life & death.

     We all need such experiences, not only in the face of extraordinary difficulties but also in the face of the sheer sameness of everyday living. Each marriage needs it mountaintop experiences. We all need reassurance that we are loved. Like the disciples in today’s Gospel, we need to feel secure, we need to feel that our faith is not misguided. We need to climb those mountains from time to time for fresh glimpses for the glory of love.

   In a sense, every Sunday is meant to be a mountaintop experience – a time to retreat from the humdrum of everyday living, to see things from a higher perspective, to climb of mountain with our Lord so that we can be reassured of the transforming power of His love. God has given us Sunday to help prepare us for the new challenges of Monday. Let’s not squander it, but use it for the renewal of body, mind, & spirit (the focus of Lent). We not only need to be reinforced for the difficulties that lie ahead, but to see more clearly the marvelous plan God has in store for us. We need to be dazzled by the wondrous experience of God’s loving presence in our lives. In the words of St. Peter:

   “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power & coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitness of His majesty. For He received honor & glory from God the Father when that unique declaration came to Him from the majestic glory …. We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns & the morning star rises in your hearts.”   – 2 Peter 1: 16 – 19  AMEN!