Saturday, February 24, 2007


The Gospel reading for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, March 4 (year C):

28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus* took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake,* they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,* one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen;* listen to him!’ 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

There are many commentaries on this passage. One thing strikes me about the passage based on an experience I had some years back. I was part of a parish meeting where we were discussing some aspect of the youth ministry of the parish. One parent was insistent that the parish needed to do more for the youth in the form of more weekend events (here we call them Discovery weekends). Now it is true that Retreats and Cursillos and Discovery weekends provide a "shot in the arm" of spiritual energy but the mother in question seemed to feel that her child needed this more often because once the energy of the weekend disappeared boredom and lethargy quickly returned.

This reading from Luke has, I think, a powerful message related to our parent's issue. Luke tells us that Peter wanted to make three dwellings (presumably he wished to stay in this place). The voice from the cloud tells the disciples to listen to Jesus. Shortly after this (Luke (9:51) Luke tells us that Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (where, of course, He would be crucified). The NRSV translation says that Jesus "set his face" toward Jerusalem. The lesson that strikes me from this is simply that while the Transfiguration experience (spiritual highs) is good; the reality is that we, along with Jesus, must climb down from the mountain and set out again on the journey that God has chosen for us. The top of the mountain is a good place but we are not meant to stay there.

So it is with us when we return from a retreat or a Cursillo or when our youth return from a Discovery weekend. The intensity of that experience can't last and we must get about our every day life. Of course I don't have to forget my mountain top experience. The memory of that experience can inspire me and nourish me in my efforts to more fully live out my Baptismal calling. Pastorally, it seems to me that young people particularly need mentoring, and support for their daily lives as well as these mountain top experiences on their faith journeys.

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