Gospel of 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.
Reflection : Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.
I love this image of going up the mountain to pray. It also brings to mind the many contemporary saints who had done the same; namely St John Paul II and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.
When my friends and I prepare for a hike into the bush, many of these paths lead us up a mountain. The path can be windy, have lots of stairs, lots of uphill climb and slippery or rocky tracks. Practically, we try to minimize our backpack as much as possible - sometimes it is difficult though, when it is a week-long hike and all the food, tents and equipment must be carried also. We each end up with 15 kg on our back.
Over the years, this process has taught me much on the essential of living and how very little one needs to survive materially. It is freeing to be conscious that everything I will need to live in the next 7 days is on my back. There are many things with which we often feel we need that we leave as they are not essential to life ; internet, cellphone, computers, air-conditioning, cosmetics, the latest fashion, the latest food trends.
Walking for a week in the wilderness is a small act of detachment which becomes a big reminder of the excess in which we live. For Catholics, the Lenten season is the spiritual climb up the mountain - making small acts of detachment from material goods to remind ourselves of the only thing we truly need for survival: God.
One of the incredible things about the walk is that despite the weight of these packs, after a few hours, the body adjusts and accepts the weight as part of you. It is not until the end of the day when we take off our packs that we suddenly realize how light walking can be - I almost feel like I can fly! And many times, my friends and I zoom around the campsite in delight at the freedom without a heavy pack stuck to us. We had forgotten how heavy the load had been. How much more freeing it would be in the spiritual life to be freed from sins - the true burden we carry around and have forgotten that life can be different, lighter, freer and all the more delightful.
This Lent may we all re-assess our walk up the mountain with only the bare essentials and may we find the company of the saints for our journey towards God.