On the Mountain of the Lord
Second Sunday of Lent
The bible is full of mountain top experiences where people encounter the Lord. We think of Moses on Mt Sinai in the midst of lightning and thunder receiving the tablets of the commandments, which spelt out the response the people needed to make in the covenant God has established with them. Or Elijah on Mt Horeb seeking the Lord in time of peril, not finding him in the earthquake, nor in the mighty wind, nor in the blazing fire, but in the still quiet voice whispered in the gentle breeze.
Both of these O.T. theophanies are the background to the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt Tabor, witnessed by Peter, James and John. When Jesus was at prayer he was transfigured, his clothes becoming luminescent, his whole visage with shining glory. Elijah and Moses appeared talking with him. The veil hiding Jesus’ divinity was drawn back for a while and the apostles experienced the mind-blowing presence of God’s glory, evoking awe and wonder, causing Peter to exclaim, “Lord it is good for us to be here”. In other words “there is nowhere else we would rather be”. They were already experiencing a taste of the overwhelming beauty and majesty of God, preparing them for the painful journey of the passion to come, and giving them a foretaste of the splendour of the glorious resurrection which they were destined to witness.
Naturally, Peter wanted to lock the experience down forever: “Lord let’s set up three tents, one for you, one for Elijah, and one for Moses”. But these mountain top experiences are not given to us to be contained and maintained under our control. They are moments when the Lord meets us for a purpose, empowers us, and sends us forth. For Moses it was to go forth and lead his people, teaching them the ways of the covenant. For Elijah it was to courageously continue his prophetic ministry regardless of the opposition. For the apostles it was to be strengthened for the journey towards Jerusalem and the call to another mountain, Calvary, on which they would suffer with Jesus, and finally to the Mount of the Ascension where they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.
During this Lent I recommend you find your own mountain, whether it is an actual climb, or a more metaphoric journey. “Seek the Lord while he is still to be found! Call on him while he is near!”. As the psalmist says, “Seek his face. It is your face, O Lord, that I seek. Hide not your face”. Maybe join with the psalmist, “I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from. My help comes from you maker of heaven and earth. O how I need you Lord! Your are my hope!” Let the air thin out as you allow the Lord to encounter you and reveal his heart to you. Allow him to draw near and speak to you of his purposes, let him touch you with his love, and shine his light on you, giving you all the help you need to move towards your calvary, whatever that may be, full of sure hope of the resurrection to come.
- How can Lent be a stimulus for you to seek the Lord with all your heart and cry out to him for help?
- What need do you have at this moment which prompts you to go to the Lord for new vision and new strength for the journey ahead?
Fr. Ken Barker
1st Reading: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
2nd Reading: Philippians 3:17 – 4:1
Gospel: Luke 9.28b-36