Sunday, March 13, 2022
by Sister Eileen Burns, SNDdeN
Have you ever climbed a mountain? In my experience climbing up means pacing your breathing, keeping to a trail, spotting breath-taking vistas of the land below you and around you as you go higher. You should carry water with you as you go. Sometimes there are patches that are rocky, steep, full of vegetation and challenging to climb. As you get higher, the trees and vegetation change.
Today we remember the Transfiguration of Jesus and we are invited to pray with Luke’s version of it. I usually skip over that first line: “Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray.” They climbed it together. If you Google climbing Mount Tabor it says that it takes about 1-2 hours to climb it. But, that is now and there is a paved road and well-marked trails. It is not what climbing Mount Tabor was like two thousand years ago. They were going up the mountain not just for the joy of it and as friends together but with a goal – to go up the mountain to pray. Imagine the beautiful view of the valley below from the top.
Lent can be a little like climbing a mountain. We set goals for ourselves to pray more, to fast, to give to others. Our goal is relationship with God, with ourselves, with others and all of creation. We hope to be transformed in preparation to celebrate Easter. We were baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and we can spot all those movements in our lives so often. We prepare to renew our baptismal vows as a community at the Easter Vigil and/or on Easter Mass.
When they got to the top, Peter, James and John fell asleep. They were tired from their climb. But Luke says, “Becoming fully awake they saw…” That happens to us as well. We have moments of great clarity where we know, see, and hear our God acting in our lives. Who did they see? There were two other mountain climbers with Jesus. Elijah’s life was threatened and he ran away from his trouble with Jezebel and climbed Mount Horeb. Scripture told us he awaited God in a cave during a storm and finally heard God in “a tiny whispering sound.” Hearing God, knowing God’s presence gave Elijah the courage to return to his mission. The other mountain climber that appeared with Jesus was Moses who had climbed Mount Sinai to pray and to be in God’s presence. Moses spent forty days and nights on the mountain. Do you remember that the people thought something had happened to him as he was gone so long and they made a golden calf? Moses receives the Ten Commandments written on stone at the end of his 40 days of prayer and carries them back to the people. He smashes them in anger at the people’s choices. Now Moses needs to return to Mount Sinai for another forty days to process it all and come back a second time with new stone tablets. Don’t let it stop us when we encounter challenges!
Who do Peter, James and John hear? God’s voice “This is my chosen son; listen to him.” This is Luke’s version this Sunday. Matthew says “this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Mark says “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Climbing back down a mountain is harder in my experience. You are already tired. It can be steep and your back leg muscles burn as they help you slow down as you go down the paths.
May this Lent of 2022 be a powerful experience for you. May you know, experience, and listen to Jesus. May you know that you, too, are our good God’s beloved daughter or son. That changes everything and we know we are responsible for one another and to all of creation. We are on the journey!
Luke 9: 28b – 36
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Eileen Burns, SNDdeN
Sister Eileen Burns is a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur's East-West Province Leadership Team in the USA. She lives in Lawrence, Massachusetts where Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have continuously lived and ministered since 1854. Eileen has degrees in biology and ministry with a focus in justice and peace. She has ministered in schools, parishes and agencies especially with immigrants to the USA.