2nd Sunday of Lent
Mountains are important places in the Sacred Scripture. There is Mount Sinai, the mountain of morality. It is there that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. There is Mount Carmel, the mountain of decision. It is there that Prophet Elijah convinced Israel to choose Jehovah as the only God, instead of Baal, a false god. There is the Mount of the Beatitudes, the mountain of discipleship. It is there that Jesus taught of meaning, implication and blessing of embracing the gospel values. There is the Mount of Olives, the mountain of suffering. It is there that Jesus started his journey to Jerusalem, where he would suffer, die and rise again. There is Calvary, the mountain of redemption. It is there that Jesus was crucified. There is the unnamed mountain of the Great Commission. It is there that the risen Lord, before ascending into heaven, commissioned his disciples by saying: “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
Today’s gospel reading brings us to another mountain – Mount Tabor. Mount Tabor is the mountain of Transfiguration, which we can also call as the mountain of worship. The gospel tells us that Jesus went up a high mountain with three of his disciples – and it says, “And he was transfigured before them, his clothes became dazzling white…”
Christian life should be a constant movement, going back and forth, between the mountain and the valley. “The valley” (the ground) is the symbolic place of our daily activity and action, of busyness and occupation, of hustle and bustle. (Bishop Robert Barron) “The mountain” is the symbolic place of retreat and solitude, of reflection and contemplation, of prayer and worship.
Joseph Krempa has this commentary and reflection: “Without the mountain of prayer, we lack spiritual resources and become spiritually impotent, easily burned out, moving without a moral compass, without direction.” “Without the valley, we can end up with a religion of escape or private religious experience that transforms nothing, redeems no one, and is isolated from the world.” “Jesus knew both. He went to the mountain and brought its peace and grace to the valley.”
May we constantly go up the mountain of prayer to receive the needed grace – energy and vitality, courage and strength, inspiration and encouragement – that we will bring to the valley of daily activity. Joseph Krempa elaborates on the significance of mountain and valley by saying: “In our life, we need the mountain of worship to help us in the valley of work we have to do here on earth.” “All of us need to move back and forth between the mountain and the valley. It is like breathing.” Think of it this way: If we do not take time to inhale God’s grace, what do we expect to exhale or breathe out to others?
Indeed, we need to move back and forth between the mountain and the valley. We need to draw in spiritual life and energy on the mountain, so that we can breathe out that life and energy to others in the valley. On the mountain of worship and prayer, we inhale God’s Spirit and life. In the valley of our activity and work, we exhale the blessings from God. On the mountain of solitude and communion with God we inhale God’s loving solidarity with us. In the valley of human relationship and engagement we exhale God’s care, concern, and love. On the mountain of veneration and adoration, we inhale God’s Word of Life. In the valley we exhale the life and spirit of Christ to those with whom we serve and minister.
Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, lead us to the mountain of prayer where we can draw energy that we need in our commitment to the valley of work. On the mountain of prayer, we breathe in the very life of God, we draw in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we inhale the blessings we need as we perform our tasks and mission in the valley of our daily activity… of promoting the kingdom of God in everything we say and do… of serving the poor, the deprived and the oppressed, and of seeking the lost, the last and the least. Lord Jesus, may we grow in our spiritual life as we strive to go back and forth between the mountain and the valley where You are always with us, and You actively work with us. Amen.