On The Mountain, Be Illuminated | Word from the Shepherd No. 121 | 2nd Sunday of Lent Year B

2nd Sunday of Lent Year B
Gen.22:1-2,9-13,15-18; Rm.8:31-34; Mk.9:1-10

A beggar had been sitting by the side of the road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap.
“I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.

Many a times we do not see. We miss the treasure or the golden opportunities. It takes someone to enlighten us to see the missed treasure or the wasted chances.
Today, Abraham and the 3 disciples of Jesus were led up the mountain by God, encounter an experience ….to open their eyes to something big, something astounding and something beyond their knowing. Some call this “ILLUMINATION “. The scriptural characters had embarked on a “journey to illumination”.

It began with setting out to the Mountain, God had pointed out. Abraham had to make this journey with Isaac to Mt Horeb; the disciples were led by Jesus up Mt Tabor. The mountain signifies a place of retreat, silence, where one can find one’s self, better perceive the voice of the Lord, but a place where one cannot stay on.

On the mountain, they had a theophany. They heard, they saw. It was the transfiguration of the Lord; clothes were dazzlingly white, there appeared Moses and Elijah, a cloud came, covering them in shadow, a voice was heard: “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to Him”. Not only Jesus changed, the 3 disciples were transfigured – they heard the voice announcing Jesus and discovered the meaning of discipleship (listen to Him).

This experience of illumination reflects three phases.

  1. Both Abraham and the disciples did as expected. They made the journey. They allowed themselves to be led by the Lord. They listened to the Lord’s voice. Everything happens when there is OBEDIENCE TO THE LORD.
  2. Both of them had to MAKE SACRIFICES. They had to give up their most precious possession. Abraham had to let go Isaac, his precious son. The disciples, Peter, James and John, had to give up the breath-taking experience; and their attitude “it is wonderful to be here”. A sacrifice is a peculiar kind of gift. Here, the gift-giver benefits. They receive something of great value.
  3. Both were made to SEE A BIG GOD, with a Big plan and a Big Dream. Abraham beheld the God who did not want human sacrifices, who provided His own ram for the offering. The disciples saw the God who transfigured, changed and illuminated the time, space and minds; that their place was not to remain on the mountain but go down to the plains ( to the suffering, the abandoned and the fearful, those weighed down by fatigue, injustice and poverty).

What follows this process is the blessings. Abraham was promised the blessings of a nation, descendants and deliverance from the enemies. St Paul reminded the Romans of the blessings of eternal life, the gift of Jesus Christ.
Last week, we entered the desert to confront the wild beasts in our lives. Today we go up to the mountain, to be illuminated to see a Big God with a Big Plan.