3/13/2014 7:29:00 AM In the desert or on the mountain, see only him
Mary Jo Tully Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland
March 16, 2014 Second Sunday of Lent Genesis 12:1-4a 2 Timothy 1:8b-10 Matthew 17:1-9
Growing up Catholic, I took my faith for granted. I learned the tenets of the Catholic faith and professed the Creed at an early age. In retrospect, I realize that what my head knew when I was young my heart had not yet realized. All that has changed. Even though I cannot point to a specific moment of conversion, I think I know what it means to say “Jesus is Lord.”
For most of us, adult faith does not come in a moment. It comes in times when we are able to separate ourselves from the hectic pace of everyday life. It comes in “Lenten moments.”
Peter, James and John were people very much like us, caught up in the world in which they lived. Then, one day they climbed a mountain with Jesus. Luke tells us that Jesus took them to the mountain to pray and that seems likely. As they climbed they separated themselves from their cares and concerns. They forgot about the petty quarrels and jealousies of life. They even forgot Jesus’ recent prediction of his passion. Their priorities and their focus were altered. When they reached the top, even the vision they had of Jesus changed. They saw him in all his glory, speaking with Moses and Elijah, symbolic figures representing the Law and the prophets. At that moment, nothing else mattered.
The message seems simple. This is God’s Son. Listen to him. Do not be afraid, see only Jesus and look forward to the resurrection.
The Lenten season has been called a desert experience. It could just as well be thought of as a mountain experience. It is a time for us to move away and re-align our priorities, to consider what is most important in our lives. It is a time for us to ask the question: “Who is Jesus?” Call it a desert or call it a mountain, it does not matter. What counts is that it becomes a conversion experience for us.
Throughout this Lenten season, we walk toward that total awareness that Jesus is Lord. This is the experience that changes our lives, that calls us to repentance and fills us with joy. It is the experience that helps us to make sense of the cross and the passion.
Most of us do not want to leave the mountain anymore than the disciples did. We would like to erect our spiritual tents in the midst of this moment but that cannot be. We move to the altar renewed and enlightened so that we can move to the world with a new conviction that Jesus, indeed, is Lord.