2nd Sunday of Lent (Fr. Vinner)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
All of us do know that Jesus’ life was fully immersed in God-experience. It was this God-experience that was responsible for his powerful preaching, awe-evoking miracles and a life of fullness and freedom. Even though the whole life of Jesus was marked by God-experience, the synoptic writers give us three accounts of God-experience. The first one is the moment of baptism, which took place in river Jordan. The second one is what happened on Mount Tabor, namely transfiguration. The last one is what happened in Calvary. The first one happened at the initial phase of Jesus’ ministry, the second one, more or less during the middle of his ministry, and the last one towards the end of his earthly ministry.
God-experience is basically experiencing the ever-abiding presence of God with oneself. That is why in all the above three events we see the deliberate presence of God, the Father, though manifest in different ways. In baptism and transfiguration, the presence of God, the Father, is very clear. He is the one who says, “He is my Son, the Beloved.” But in Calvary, Jesus experienced the same Father in emptiness and barrenness. It can be said that on mount Tabor and river Jordan, Jesus met God in his glory and power, whereas on Calvary, he met God in his vulnerability and emptiness. On Calvary, Jesus, on the very apparent absence, felt the presence of the Father. Let us earnestly seek to experience God more and more so that our lives begin to be meaningful and purposeful more and more.
Someone once called this particular Sunday the “Day of the three mountains.”
We have –
- Abraham on Mount Moriah –
- The redeeming Christ on Mount Calvary
- and the Transfigured Christ on Mount Tabor.
We are invited to climb these mountains during Lent. Mountain climbing is strenuous but there is always something awe-inspiring about these grand peaks. On the top – the air is clean and crisp.
The panoramic view of the surrounding country-side lifts us from the hustle and bustle of the RAT-RACE – and raises our minds and hearts to God. Let’s look at these three mountains. First – there is Mount Moriah. In his old age – Abraham was called by God to leave the people of the Chaldeans and go to a different place – one that God intended. Abraham listened and obeyed. Some years ago – archeological excavations in the area of the Chaldeans revealed the awful discovery that the Chaldeans were involved in child sacrifices. In the light of this – Abraham’s climbing Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son loses some of its puzzlement. God called him up the mountain to teach him in a very dramatic way – that human Sacrifice would never be part of the fidelity to the God OF LIFE. At the top of Mount Moriah – Abraham finally and completely left all of the old “gods” of the Chaldeans behind.
We are called during Lent to abandon the worship of the false gods of
- our ego
- the materialistic values –
- and the sinful permissiveness of our time.
The call to us of Mount Moriah is to re-discover our fidelity to the one and only true God. St. Paul in the second reading speaks about Christ’s love for us shown on Mount Calvary. To climb the hill of Calvary is to see in Jesus ALONE – the way – the truth – and the life that comes to us from His saving death and Resurrection.
The call of Mount Calvary during Lent is for us to embrace the death and Resurrection of Jesus as our KEY to everlasting life. And then in today’s gospel there is Mount Tabor.
Visualizing climbing this high mountain with Jesus and the three Apostles Peter, James, and John. With them – we become witnesses to Jesus’ Transfiguration. As we heard – it is really an amazing scene. On this mountaintop – before their eyes – Jesus’ face starts to shine like the sun. His clothes become “dazzling white”. By His Transfiguration – Jesus is giving us a beautiful glimpse of OUR DESTINY and our “DESTINATION”. He is showing us what our earthly pilgrimage is leading us to. For just a brief moment – we get to see the “GOAL” of our future life. You see – The Transfiguration is a PROMISE of our own Resurrection. The CALL of Mount Tabor to the disciples and to us – is to TRUST in the GLORY that awaits us. Then Moses and Elijah appear and start talking to Jesus. Moses – of course – is the great lawgiver of Israel – and Elijah a great prophet .In their lives – both of them had the experience of going up on a mountain and having an encounter with God. In the Transfiguration – they symbolize the Law and the Prophets. They are there to testify to the disciples – and to us – that Jesus IS the Messiah. Jesus is the ONE who fulfills everything that God was promising in the Old Testament. That is why Moses and Elijah vanish at the end of the scene.
Because with the coming of Jesus – the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled. All we need is Jesus Who shows us the face of God. And the Transfiguration reveals to us the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit comes in the form of a cloud and overshadows the mountain. And out of this cloud – the Father’s voice declares, “This is My Beloved Son, LISTEN TO HIM!”
Three mountains – Mount Moriah – leaving behind the false “gods” of our secular society. Mount Calvary – embracing Jesus as our only Savior. Mount Tabor – trusting the eternal glory that is our destiny in Christ which mountain do you need to climb this lent?
May God Bless us all
FR. S.Vinner HGN