Today’s reflection is for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, March 8, 2020, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
Today Jesus takes Peter, James, and John—his closest disciples—up, what Matthew calls a “very high maintain.” Scripture is not clear on how high or how steep this mountain is. It does not speak of what kind of terrain, or even how long it took to climb, but I would think that what distinguishes a very high mountain from a little hill is the amount of effort it takes to get to the top!
Have you ever climbed a very high mountain? I certainly have. Both in the Marines and since then, whether on day hikes or backpacking trips, climbing high mountains is WORK! Listen, I don’t care which path you take, to get from the bottoms of the mountain to the top, it requires a great deal of determination and grit, and quitters need not apply! You might have to take breaks, you may need some snacks, you might get some blisters and sore muscles, but hear me very clearly, you WILL NOT reach the top if you do not make a conscience decision to do so, and work hard to reach the top.
So, why in the world do people climb high mountains? Why would sane people endure such suffering, blisters, pain, and trial? The answer is obvious to people who do it, because there’s nothing like it in the world—clean air, clear sight for as far as you can see; beauty and peace that can’t be found anywhere else—and it makes all the effort worth it.
As we journey into the second week of Lent, we too climb the mountain—not a physical mountain but a spiritual one. Through abstinence, penance, prayers, and much suffering our hope is that like Peter, James, and John, in the end, we witness the face of God—we see His glory.
I’m not sure how much complaining went on as Jesus and His disciples trudged up the mountain. Peter’s feet hurt, James needed sunscreen, John begged to rest a little while longer, but when they got to the top, they saw the glory of God. And Peter wanted to pitch a tent and stay a while. To be honest, I can’t blame him.
Every time I start climbing a mountain, within the first couple miles, I always think, “What am I thinking?! This is hard!” But with family and friends to encourage me, I take one step at a time, and eventually we get there.
The same is true for Lent, you know. Some of us here have made great sacrifices for Lent—sacrifices of time, talent, or treasure. Some have committed themselves to rising early or going to bed late for prayer or Scripture reading. Some are attending retreats or Stations of the Cross, serving at fish fries, or just eating at them. Others have committed to serving those in need. Still some have given up solid food, or maybe even chocolate or coffee or beer!
Whatever your sacrifice, today is a day of encouragement. [Insert CCC quote here]. Do not give up your climb. If you have stumbled or fallen, have taken a rest or have given up all together, I want to encourage you to get back on the trail. St. [quote here about discipline or sacrifice].
Continue to do the hard work of ascending the mountain of God. Pray, fast, give alms, sacrifice greatly, and continue your journey! It will not be easy—Jesus never promises that, but if you are faithful and you commit yourself to growing in holiness, you will see the glory of God, and you will hear the voice of God. You will be told to obey, and obedience will bring you joy and light and eternal life. Keep calm and climb on. I’ll be praying for you.