On the Second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading always presents us with the Transfiguration, one of the most theologically packed scenes in all of the Bible. Each detail and nuance is so richly meaningful that thousands of books could never fully explore the density of this mystical event.
But in this season of Lent, one particular detail that is profitable to explore is the location where this glorious revelation unfolds. Saint Luke’s accounting tells us that Our Lord “went up the mountain to pray” and that he took Peter, John, and James with him. The site where the apostles see Our Lord revealed in glory with Moses the Lawgiver and Elijah the Prophet is at the top of a mountain.
Time and time again in Scripture we hear of great mystical events unfolding once a person has reached the peak of a mountain. From Noah’s Ark resting on Mount Ararat, to Abraham taking his son Isaac to Mount Moriah, to Moses climbing Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments, to Elijah climbing Mount Moreb to receive prophecy, the peaks of mountains seem to be a place where the Lord reveals Himself and His salvific plan to us.
Now certainly, in all these stories, these chosen people physically ascended mountains in their humanity, with their physical bodies. But the allegorical thread that runs through these stories cannot be missed. The Lord is willing to condescend to us and meet us halfway between Heaven and Earth on the peak of mountain if we undertake the struggle to climb to Him. To receive His words and to see His glory, we must make the climb. We must undertake the arduous journey. We must rise up from where we are and reach the heights to prepare ourselves to receive Him.
In many ways, the season of Lent is our annual spiritual mountain. It is the towering peak of sacrifice and conversion with our salvation in the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord at its summit. It is the hard and rocky journey that prepares us to receive Our Resurrected Lord on Easter. It is our time in the grey wilderness of the slopes that finds its end with a view of Our Lord in Glory.
But, there is always the temptation to want the view from the top of mountain without first undergoing the struggle to reach it. Even Our Lord was tempted with the easy path to top when “the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence” (cf Matt. 4:8) and offered them to Him. But this is not the way God commands us to prepare ourselves.
Be like Abraham. Be like Moses. Be like Elijah. Do not cheat yourself and deprive yourself of the climb! Pray. Sacrifice. Give Alms. Fast. Undertake the journey and make yourself ready for the Glory of the Risen Lord. This Lent climb the mountain!
Ryan Scheel is the Founder of UCatholic.com. Check out all all that UCatholic has to offer here.