2nd Sunday of Lent ~ 13 March 2022 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; Responsorial: Psalm 27; II: Philippians 3:17 – 4:1; Gospel: Luke 9: 28b-36
This second Sunday of Lent we join Peter, James, and John as they have followed Jesus up to what will come to be known as The Mount of Transfiguration. A place and gospel story with which there is much familiarity. Many are the messages and lessons that we have heard. Yet for all the familiarity it is a place of mystery and power. It is a place that offers great meaning and opportunity, especially for the disciple seeking to draw closer to God on their Lenten journey. It is an awesome and powerful journey to profoundly holy ground.
Every moment of our Christian faith God would be seeking to help us grow, ever closer into the mercy of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and, ever higher into the Kingdom of Heaven. In the realm of spiritual geography, this season and especially the journey with Christ is to journey to holy ground. Many find the physical location of the Mount of Transfiguration to be vitally important. And, indeed to learn about or, to actually travel to Mt Tabor in the Holy Land and to study the actual place where it is believed this occurred would be of immense blessing. But this mount is about much more than the physical geography and location. And, as our hearts may be open we can sojourn with the Spirit of God to other mountain tops of faith as we follow Christ to and realize where we can find our holy ground, a place where we can encounter Jesus, with His saints and grow in the transfiguring power of the Christ.
The holy places to which we may be called may well be an actual prayerful hike up a mountain, or perhaps a special pilgrimage to a church or chapel. It might be a retreat or mission in which we participate. But we must remember our holy ground is found, at Mass, with our families, in our times and places of prayer, work, and relaxation. A “Spiritual Geography Guide” could highlight these places and many special aspects that we would seek and find. But there are three of consistent importance. The holy ground to which we come will be places of Prayer, Physical Weariness, and Growing in God’s Truth.
Holy Ground ~ a Place of Prayer. The three synoptic Gospel accounts of the Mount of Transfiguration are emphatic. Jesus was bringing Peter, James, and John to a place and time of intense prayer. As was His personal practice. Jesus knew the necessity of leaving the world and all its clamor behind and simply going and being with His Father in the Holy Spirit. The time with God, to share His burdens, and especially to listen was deeply wired into the person, the man of Jesus. This prayer time was about Jesus the Son of Man and the Holy Trinity. But this holy mount teaches even more about the prayer life of Jesus. Jesus needed those graces that the Catholic Church would grow to call as the “communion of the saints.” Jesus was praying and worshipping to His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. But He was doing so in the fellowship, the communion of the saints, in this case, Moses and Elijah. If Jesus needed the help of the saints and angels how much more must we need their support? For Jesus knew the harsh reality, doing the will of His Father was exhausting, hard work.
Holy Ground ~ a Place of Physical (and sometimes) Spiritual Exhaustion – In my own life, I confess, sometimes when praying I fall asleep. And I have heard that I am not alone in this reality. Coming to our holy ground can be hard, wearisome work. Especially if we are carrying burdens of needs, weakness, or fear, or guilty (real or false). We also encounter the reality of spiritual warfare as we continue to learn that Satan does NOT want us to come to the place God would call. So we must understand, it is ok if our holy ground is a place we come, sometimes when exhausted. Ther is another issue at work sometimes. When we enter the holy place with God we often find the healing embrace of God’s peace. And in the peace of the Holy Spirit, we may experience holy slumber as we learn the lesson shared by the Psalmist, “Lo he gives his beloved sleep.” [Psalm 127:2]. It may be God’s response to our prayers is to simply be still, rest, and know he is God! Now as we recognize these realities and graces found on holy ground we must remember they are not excuses to be lazy or neglectful of seeking to grow in God’s Presence and Place. Sadly many great blessings have been lost or undiscovered simply because of our failure to come and grow in the holy places God would call. But we overcome those failures or temptations to fail as we pray and as we accept the exhaustion that can occur. For it is then, in those holy places we experience that God truly empowers us to grow through and know He renews the strength of those who wait upon Him. And we grow in the truth of God and ourselves.
Holy Ground ~ A place to Grow in Truth: Peter, James, and, John KNEW Jesus. They had been his disciples for a considerable time. The had experienced the awesome revelation that He was the Christ (Luke 8). But there was so much more Of God and God’s Kingdom to realize. They went with Jesus to pray. They, in their human exhaustion learned, again, their strength was not in their flesh. But as they awoke to the indescribable epiphany of Jesus, with Moses and Elijah, and as they heard the voice of the Heavenly Father and witness of the Holy Spirit they GREW much more in the holy Truth of who Jesus is, was and evermore shall be! They, as good Jewish men, knew the Scriptures in what would come to be called the Old Testament. They KNEW their Truth. But they were realizing, they were learning God longed to share so much more of His holy truth that would make them free. And they would grow on the learning, they were just beginning. The Passion, the death, and resurrection of Christ would transform their understanding, their faith, their lives. Then they would continue their pilgrimage through the outpouring and empowering of the Holy Spirit leading them to places, to holy grounds, and Truth they would never have imagined.
And the quest is ours as well. We are called to holy ground, in church, during the Mass, during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, in our Communion with the Saints who have gone before us and those that we are with during the Mass or at home. We are called to grow on the holy ground of our lives as we learn what it means to be temples of the Holy Spirit. The Mount of Transfiguration is our call from God to grow in the beauty, joy, and truth of God’s holiness and love.