View From the Mountaintop

A reflection for the second week in Lent

 By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

As I pray with the Gospel for the second Sunday of Lent, I wonder why Jesus took Peter, John and James to the top of a mountain to pray.  Wouldn’t a nice spot by the sea do? Or a secluded area off the beaten path?  As we look through the Gospels, we find Jesus choosing numerous places to pray and teach.  There is the desert, the hill overlooking Jerusalem, the mountain or plane to teach the Beatitudes, the rock where Jesus gathered the children, to cite a few.

 When I imagine being on a mountaintop, I experience a broader perspective on life.  I forget my problems as I take in the beauty of our world.  I am reminded of the diversity of God’s creation.  I am also reminded of the uneven distribution of resources, clean air and wealth, among other things, that afflict our planet.  A big challenge for me is to know when to come down the mountain and get to work.

 Suggested questions for reflection:

What are the places that help you encounter God?
How are you challenged by the uneven distribution of resources cited by the author?
Do you also have difficulty “coming down from the mountaintop?”

 

The Transfiguration – A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent

Excerpted from a Meditation by Larry Gillick, S.J., Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality

[Readings: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Ps 116:10, 15, 16-19; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10]

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent presents the Transfiguration, or the “the Changing of the Garb.”  Peter, James and John go up a hill with Jesus.  They have a most intimate encounter with Jesus, God the Beyond, and, of course, themselves.

Jesus dazzles his followers with some state of glorification. Moses, the man of the law, and Elijah, the man of prophesy, are seen conversing with Jesus.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, and the “voice” again ordains him as “my beloved son.”  The terrified trio is encouraged also to “listen to him.”

Immediately after this experience, there they are, just the four again and nobody else, no other sounds.  They leave with this experience and their questions about what it was all about.  They are charged by Jesus not to speak about it until he had risen from the dead. They did not understand this, either, but they kept on walking back down from this hill of intimacy.

Peter, James and John experienced an unusual convention and communion.  They are “befuddled-beholders” and they go off into the routine down-the-hill living of their lives.

Their faith seems to be strengthened, but at the same time they experience bewilderment and must ask themselves about the “realness” of what has just happened.

Devotion, prayer, liturgy can be similar calls to simple and honest closeness.  Trying to figure out these experiences and explain them cheapens them and flattens them out into a practice rather than a delight. We go toward a time of being met by the Holy, given something of ourselves by the encouragement and comfort of God’s presence and then sent away, but always the little question, “Was that really real? Or was I talking to myself, comforting myself, judging myself?”

Intimacy with God does not lead to comprehending, but to sending, living, transfiguring, changing because we are so loved.  I wish to come away from every liturgy or times of personal prayer less able to explain why I live the way I do.  I wish to be a befuddlement  and, in a sense, be a transfigurational experience, not easily explained away.

Reflection:  Am I able to delight in the unexplainable mysteries and experiences of my faith? 

A Time to Prepare – A Reflection for the Second Week of Advent

By Charlene Dunn*

When the Jesuit pioneers came to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay they met the Algonquin Indians and set about converting them.   The Jesuits successfully compiled a dictionary which translated English into Algonquin and back again. 

They found that the Algonquin had no word for “time.”  To them, time was a concept witnessed by natural events.  There were sunrises, full moons and winters.  The Indians’ lives were measured by creation itself—completely in tune—like one dance from beginning to end.  At some point the Indians were introduced to time as a measure, both finite and eternal. 

We experience the same dilemma with what we are taught in the Scriptures. Peter tells us that, to the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like one day. The Lord, however, is not confined as we are by the temporal. God is eternal while we are finite; we have a beginning and an end. God is immeasurable. We are measured. God is timeless. We are timed. God is limitless. We are limited. God invites us to share in eternal life.

To teach us how to cross into this timelessness, Jesus came among us for a finite wink of time.  Sadly, we were not there; but, Jesus will come to us again and we believe this because he told us so.  Humankind has been waiting for his return since his ascension into heaven nearly two thousand years ago.  When will he come?  He will come when we have prepared his way.

I believe that God loves us all, each and everyone the same.  Jesus teaches us that we must love one another as he has loved us.  More than ever, I believe that we are called upon to witness God’s love.  We begin by never questioning the depth of God’s love for us, because in that truth comes all the strength, wisdom and surrender necessary to be instrumental in hastening the second coming of Jesus. 

We must frequently remind ourselves that we are in the presence of God and that Christ is within us as we go about our daily mission.  And, we must recognize not only our faults, but also the acts of love we do to further God’s kingdom on earth.  Witnessing God’s love does not always come easy, so when we acknowledge to ourselves even small  successes, we learn to become better at it. 

Reflection:  What have I done today to prepare the way for Jesus to come again?

*Charlene Dunn is a long-time friend of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.