Gospel Meditation

2nd Sunday of Lent
How are your Lenten resolutions? By the time week two rolls around, plenty of well-meaning people have skipped, neglected, or outright forgotten their Lenten resolutions at least once. It can be easy to start excusing our Lenten commitments altogether.

Last week we saw Jesus driven into the desert. This Sunday, we see Jesus leading his disciples to an equally barren place: he “led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.” But what happens there? “And he was transfigured before them and his clothes became dazzling white.” Today’s Gospel reminds us of the goal. We don’t enter into the desert for the sake of suffering, but for the sake of transformation.

Mountain imagery is prevalent throughout Scripture. The sacrifice of Isaac, Moses receiving the 10 Commandments, Elijah’s revelation of God as a tiny whispering sound: all these occur on the mountaintop. Mountains are strenuous to hike. To assist the traveler in the assent, trails often involve switchbacks. These lead the traveler back and forth across the mountainside, sometimes appearing as if hardly any ground is gained. Perhaps Peter, James, and John hiked a similar path as Jesus led them up the side of Mount Tabor.

A climb is difficult. A climb in a barren place leaves you thirsty, exhausted, and quite possibly frustrated or discouraged. Yet this is precisely how Jesus leads his closest disciples. Why? Because he has something to reveal to them. Practically speaking, Jesus needed to bring Peter, James and John away from the crowds for this revelation of glory to remain hidden. There are spiritual truths we will encounter only if we pass through difficulty. So let’s persevere this Lent! Today’s Gospel invites us to trust that, if we persevere in following Jesus, he’ll lead us to something beautiful and glorious as well.

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