Second Sunday of Lent [B]
February 28, 2021
Mountain is a special place in the Bible. It is a place where God meets His people. In the Old Testament, there are many instances where mountains become a pivotal point of salvation history. After the great flood that cleansed the world, the Ark of Noah landed on Mount Ararat, and there, Noah offered sacrifice to God [see Gen 8:4]. Abraham was asked by God to offer his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. Just right before the sacrifice, the angel of God prevented Abraham and God recognized Abraham’s faith [see Gen 22]. When Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Moses saw a burning bush yet was not consumed, and there, on the mount of Horeb, God called Moses to save Israelites from the Egyptians [see Exo 3]. After the liberation from Egypt, Moses and the Israelites the Law and established a covenant with God on the mount of Sinai [see Exo 24:18].
Jesus’ important life events took place in the Mountains. There is the mountain of temptation, where the devil brought Jesus and offered Him the worldly glories. There is the mountain of prayer, where Jesus spent His solitude with the Father. There is the mountain of teaching, where Jesus taught the most remarkable lessons like Beatitudes and love for enemies. There is a mountain of Transfiguration, where Jesus manifested His divine glory. There is the mountain of the cross, or Golgotha, where Jesus gave His life for our salvation. Lastly, there is the mountain of ascension, where Jesus went back to the heavens and sent His disciples to preach and baptize all the nations.
One distinctive feature in the Mount of Transfiguration is that he invited three disciples: Peter, James, and John. There are many reasons why these three were selected. St. Ambrose of Milan, representing the Fathers of the Church, believed that these three were chosen because of Peter who received the kingdoms’ keys, John, to whom was committed our Lord’s mother, and James who first suffered martyrdom. Meanwhile, St. Thomas Aquinas, a Middle age theologian, argued that James was the first martyr, John was the most beloved, and Peter was the one who loves Jesus most. However, we can also see it in a simple way. These three were disciples who were ready to follow Jesus and climb the high mountain.
Climbing the mountain is a challenging mission. One has to make necessary preparation without being excessive. Climbing requires physical stamina as well as mental toughness. As the climbing progresses, the persons’ authentic characters will be revealed. Facing difficulty, one can be very selfish or selfless. Confronting challenges, one can march with courage or retreat in fear. In a dire situation, one can exhibit decisive leadership or get panicked and lose his way. Peter, James, and John were up for the challenge, and they persevered to see the transfigured Jesus.
Often Jesus calls us to climb a mountain with Him. Sometimes, we climb the mountain of prayer as we need to face many hurdles in our prayer life. Occasionally, we need to climb the mountain of teaching because we are struggling with the Church’s particular teachings. Sometimes, we climb the mountain of Calvary, and we need to carry our cross, and on the top, we find no consolation but the death of the Savior.
Yet, the good news is that Jesus, who invited us to climb the mountain, is also walking with us. As we walk with Jesus, He guides us, strengthens us, and forms us. If we are faithful in mountains of temptations and Calvary, we will participate in His Transfiguration, resurrection, and ascension.
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP