2nd Sunday of Lent

Genesis: 15:5-12,17-18, Philippians: 3:17-4:1  Luke: 9:28-36

Reflection2022Today the Liturgy of the Second Sunday of Lent invites us or challenges us to climb the Mountain of Tabor -“the place where the Lord has made His home.” (Ez 15; 17-18)

It is to this mountain that Jesus takes Peter, James and John so that they can have their real Epiphany experience.  The Shepherds had their epiphany when they saw the new born babe, the Magi had theirs when they worshipped the infant King and the people on the banks of the Jordan had theirs when Jesus appeared among them as the Lamb of God – identifying Himself with them.

The three apostles climb the mountain so that Jesus could be revealed to them in all his Glory and as the Beloved Son of the God.  They shared this moment of Light with the Lord; a moment of great Grace and Tranquillity and Awe.  They wanted to remain in that moment.  But Jesus brought them there for two reasons.

Firstly Jesus wanted them to be alone with Him.  If they were to focus properly on Him they must allow Him to take them into a space filled with silence.  They would not be able to discern His Glory in the midst of the crowds or be able to hear the Father’s voice in the chaos and confusion of public ministry.  For as the great Dominican mystic of the Middle Ages, John Tauler, says “If God would speak, you must be silent”

The second lesson for the apostles in this Epiphany experience was they could not remain permanently on the mountain top – they had to return to the chaos and confusion of ordinary life.  Peter had wanted to capture his experience by building three tents – for Jesus, Moses and Elijah or perhaps for Peter, James and John!  These eye-witnesses had to descend because the life of an apostle must be in constant balance between the glorious vision of solitary prayer and the struggle in service of God’s people.

When they would come down from the mountain of that experience of the Transfiguration and get on with the life of being apostles, surely Peter drew from the strength of that memory to be the Rock on which the Church was built, surely James, the first apostle to suffer martyrdom would draw on the strength of Hope, and John, the only apostle to live to ‘old age’ would be sustained and encouraged by the strength of Faith which he found on Mount Tabor.

So how can we duplicate what the apostles did when they climbed the mountain with Jesus? The Christian Orthodox Monk (7th century), Maximos the Confessor, taught:  “When we take the Bible into solitude and listen attentively to the word of God, we are doing something similar to what Peter, James and John did.”

Our mountains may not be as real as Tabor was for  Peter, James and John, but we do have to journey and climb!  If we give ourselves space and time and silence, we will be responding to the call of the Father, ‘Listen to Him’ and the Lord will reveal himself to us.  Then like Peter our memories will be charged, our Faith will be strengthened and we will have the grace to Hope in the wondrous promises that the Lord has made.