2nd Sunday of Lent (Gen 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Rom 8: 31b-35, 37; Mk 9:2-10) “Upon Two Mountains” PDF Version
Homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B (2018): Gen 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Rom 8: 31b-35, 37; Mk 9:2-10
Mountains were among the favoured locations that God choose to reveal Himself through what is known as a theophany. This is when God, who remains unseen in His heavenly Kingdom, wills to reveal Himself through some powerful manifestation of His divine glory. Among the first mountain top theophanies was when God revealed Himself on Mt Sinai, overshadowing the peak with celestial fire and smoke, and with his own Finger inscribed the Ten Commandments upon tablets of stone for Moses to deliver to His People. Israel never forgot this theophany and were forever grateful to God for giving them a Law to forge them into a Holy People, even if they time and again failed to perfectly abide by these life giving precepts.
There was also another occasion when someone experienced a theophany on Mt Sinai which is also known as Mt Horeb. It was when the Prophet Elijah journeyed to Mt Horeb and witnessed as God revealed Himself not in the glory of a firestorm or earthquake, but in the deep whisper of His omnipresent silence. Since that theophany, Israel did not have any more mountain top encounters with God. Instead, for centuries, God was silent and Israel wondered, complained and at times remained indifferent if the Lord would ever again reveal Himself in glory as He once did to Moses and Elijah.
It was not until Our Lord climbed to the heights of Mt Tabor that once again God would bring about a theophany for Israel to experience. When Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, it was fitting that Moses and Elijah would appear. It was to these two men, who represented the Gift of God’s Law and the Wisdom that is given through Prophecy and who had been privileged to witness God’s glory upon the heights of Mt Sinai, that they would once again stand as witnesses to God’s glory upon a mountain that was chosen to reveal a truth that had been hidden since the dawn of creation and was to be proclaimed to the four corners of the world: That God had a son, Jesus the Christ, and to Him shall be all honour, glory and majesty, world without end, Amen!
But we know that Mt Tabor was not the only mountain that Our Lord choose to reveal His glory to the world. As they descended the heights of Mt Tabor, Jesus told the chosen three that they were now to set their eyes to another mountain, a mountain of pain and suffering, where the glory of God would be veiled beneath the depth of unthinkable torment.
As Our Lord set His eyes towards Jerusalem and a small mountain called Golgotha outside the city walls, He was beginning a pilgrimage that would bring about a fulfillment to the haunting pilgrimage that Abraham and Isaac made centuries before.
With wood across a young man’s back and knife and flame in the hand of his father, Isaac and Abraham began their ascent of Mt Moriah, that mountain which would one day be the home of the city of Jerusalem and the place that Israel would construct their temple to offer perpetual sacrifice to the One, True God.
At the moment Isaac looked certain to be slain as the sacrifice of a first born son, God allowed a subtle yet profound theophany to appear: suddenly, a lamb was present, his head caught in thorns and his body suspended above the earth by a tree, as an acceptable sacrifice in place of Isaac. Indeed, God had provided a sacrifice of His own to save a first born son, so that generations that would rival the stars of heaven could be born into this world and come to be known as the children of the God of Israel.
And so the New Isaac, Jesus Christ, would also in time make His ascent up Mt Moriah, carrying wood across His back until He reached the place of the Skull, a place that many said was where Adam was buried long, long ago. With His head surrounded by thorns and His body suspended above the earth by the wood of a newly hewn cross, the prophecy of Abraham was fulfilled when God provided His sacrifice in the place of Isaac, that of His only begotten Son, so that those baptized into His death and resurrection could also rival the stars of heaven as a testimony of what become of those who embraced His gift of salvation and had chosen to be His faithful disciples until they too would depart this world to reign on the heights of the heavenly Jerusalem.
St Paul declared to the Christians of Rome that “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave Him up for all of us, will He not with Him also give us everything else?”; that everything being all that is promised and asked of those who willing follow Christ, in both those moments that God reveals to us His love and consolation and when we are asked to share in His sufferings, be they hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.”
On this Second Sunday of Lent, let us ask God to be with us as we encounter Him upon the mountains. One mountain where we will all meet the Lord is the one we currently standing upon. Our Faith has taught us in aeternum that each and every Mass is a representation of the Sacrifice that took place on Mt Calvary nearly 2000 years ago. We currently stand before the Cross, our feet set firmly on the place of the skull and mountain Christ choose to offer Himself in sacrifice for us. It is here that we are given the privileged time to stand on the holiest of all mountains and say yes to the ways in which the Cross will be a part of our lives.
But let us also know that this mountain is that place of glorious exchange where heaven and earth meet and we are allowed to participate in that sacrifice of praise that is currently taking place in heaven. On this holy mountain, we are worshipping God in a manner similar to the ways the angels and saints are currently praising the Holy Trinity in heaven.
What we do now on this earthly mountain is the necessary preparation for what we will one day hopefully do upon the heavenly mountain. So let us always worship God well on this holy mount and echo the words of St Peter that “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.”