Sunday, March 17, 2019

A little something for 2nd Sunday in Lent albeit 6 years ago

Being from New Orleans many of us have never really had a "mountain top"experience.  When you live below sea level to climb a "mountain" many of us can only recall that long climb up one of the levees paralleling the Mississippi River or that formidable hike up Monkey Hill in our famous Audubon Park.  Now for my out of town friends hearing this or reading this, Monkey Hill is man made hill and it really is not all that formidable.  Many years ago my family was able to spend a week in Wyoming and we spent that time in the shadows of the amazingly beautiful Grand Teton Mountains outside of Jackson Hole.  It was breath-taking.  I clearly remember audibly uttering these words as I drove up to the beautiful vista ahead of me: "this is truly God's beauty on display". 

I'm sure there are among us today many who may have visited these beautiful mountains or have spent time somewhere in the Rockies, the Smokies or any of the states with beautiful mountains majesty.  Many of you, like me, perhaps commented or at least thought, wow, such a great gift from God.  Like me and my family, it was a mountain top experience.

As people of faith, we too are called to a mountain top experience, whether we have a mountain or not!

Every year in Lent, on this the second Sunday, we are given the Gospel of the Transfiguration.  This year we hear the story from the Gospel of St. Luke.  He claerly describes the mountain top experience and he names all the key players; Jesus, who brings with him, Peter, James and John, and we also are told that Jesus is found to be conversing with Moses and Elijah.  And, if we are not careful, we may miss the presence of the Holy Trinity.  Jesus, we know is already present, but the cloud that cast a shadow is the Holy Spirit and the voice from that cloud declares: "this is my chosen Son; listen to him." The voice is the presence of God the Father.  Besides being present as the Holy Trinity is present, Peter, James and John get that special moment of seeing Jesus truly transfigured; to catch a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus.  We are told that Jesus' face becomes changed and his clothing dazzling white.  And if this were not enough for the three Apostles, they see Jesus, transfigured, speaking with Moses and Elijah, the great Law giver and the great Prophet from the Old Testament about the exodus of Jesus.  Of course this refers to another mountain that Jesus must climb, the mount of Calvary, Golgotha, the place of the Skull, the place where Jesus will suffer crucifixion. 

As is often the case in our lives, when we experience a mountain top moment, we may want to linger.  Like Peter we may want to say to the Master, it is good to be here, let's pitch a tent and hang out here awhile.  Do we really need to leave?  Jesus says yes, we must move along, even though Jesus knew His "moving along" means Calvary.  But after Calvary, the Resurrection!!  You and I too, must move along.  Our mountain top experiences, our vacation times, our times of rest and relaxation, must come to an end and we move along.  We move along back to work and school, our chores, our presence in our families, neighborhoods and community.  We will have to face our Calvary's too; whatever they may be.  We face our illnesses, disappointments, sadness, maybe even death; because we get to the Resurrection by leaving the mountaintop, traveling toward our Calvary's and arrive at Easter glory!

For each of us here today, we are called to move along.  For the right now, we are journeying past our first two weeks of Lent.  How faithful have we been to our Lenten promises of fasting, praying and alms-giving?  If a quick check-up reveals we are doing well, then persevere!  Keep up that splendid effort.  And do so with great joy!!  If that check-up reveals something less than what we promised, it's not too late.  Start now!  Be strong.  Do your best and do it with great joy.  For the week ahead, pray three times with today's Scripture from St. Luke; the story of the Transfiguration.  Ask yourself in that time of prayer; can I leave the mountain of the Transfiguration to move along?  Can I face my Calvary?  Can I walk with my Lord?  And do I see that which awaits me in that Easter glory?

The Grand Tetons for me and my family was a major mountain top moment in our lives. So has been the many days as a local on Monkey Hill and the Mississippi River levees.  Journeying with Jesus, from Transfiguration, to Calvary to Easter glory; now that is the REAL mountain top experience!

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