Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.
I don’t know if any of you noticed, but we have written in Scripture what Peter, James and John said when they reached the top of the mountain. What we don’t have recorded is what they said as they were being led by Jesus up a very high mountain. We cannot forget that these men were fisherman, not mountain climbers! I know what I would have been saying!
I can’t say that I ever doubted my vocation. But I do remember some moments, during my ten years in the seminary, when I thought I didn’t have what it took to be a priest. While remembering the tough moments, I also remember the hand of God guiding my directors, spiritual advisors and classmates in the right way and at the right time that were just right for me.
Peter, James and John are the old guard. Out of all the Apostles, they have spent the most time with the Lord. They may very well have been going through a tough year. They may very well have been feeling a little weary of their lifelong commitment to the Lord. They may actually have been contemplating the “old” days, when life was in their hands and out of Christ’s reach!
How is your year going? How are your New Year resolutions? Do you even remember them?
As I approach the Lenten season, I long for change. But what do I need (or want) to change? Who do I want to be? Do I want to be “all that I can be” or do I want to be “all that I want to be”. Do I want to be a different man or do I want to be the man that God created me to be?
We all know that which is new quickly becomes old. This is true not only of newlyweds but also of religious! The honeymoon, with my parishioners, is over. My faith is put on trial on a daily basis. The time has arrived to do some spiritual exercises. I need to start climbing again, and I need to start climbing up the right mountain! I feel a great need to do this. I feel that I have arrived at a crossroad. Which path will I take? One path will transform me into another Christ. The other, will assuredly disfigure me.
I am reminded of a quote from Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. In it, Dorian, our young protagonist, laments at his portrait: “I grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June…If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that-for that-I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!” (Chapter 2)
The Lord led them up a high mountain. Following the Lord and allowing him to change you is never easy. It means working hard. It means climbing high. It means being led. To start, I must swallow my pride. Questions like, “Why me?”, “Why this?”, “Why now?” are out of the question! We will know all things, but only at “The End.” To make progress I need to dig in my heels. I can’t be constantly questioning everything and everyone every time! To persevere, I must take another step. I must keep walking! I must keep moving! I must keep climbing. I can’t look back. I can’t keep holding on to the past. I have a way of keeping track of my progress: Did I do better today? Did I do better in this situation? Did I love more? Did I forgive more? Did I give more?
All in all, I need to have faith, hope and love in the Lord and in His Commands. I will have to listen more and speak less. This is how I will keep up! The more I climb the more graces I shall receive. What shall I fear? It is not my talents that lead me. It is Christ that leads me!
Brothers and sisters, start thinking of going on a retreat; start thinking of doing daily meditations on God’s word. These are the tools the Lord has given us to know Him, follow Him and love Him. The more we do this, the less we will grow disfigured.
Why did the Lord transfigure in front of these three men? Because they needed it. But before they could witness it, they did some 24 hour fitness.