Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
The first week of Lent we were with Jesus in the desert. This week we journey with him to the "mountaintop." Mountaintop experiences (some of our Passionist monasteries: Sierra Madre, Pittsburgh, Monte Argentario were built this way) can be glorious and are usually too few and far between.
Every year we are given this reading (from one of the Synoptic authors) for the Second Sunday of Lent. Why this story? It functions to strengthen us for the long road ahead (five more weeks of Lent). Our church is giving us a glimpse of glory and an early Easter so that we will be fortified in our pilgrimage.
Lent, of course, is a retreat. I remember going to the mountaintop on a retreat in Big Sur, CA. The Camaldolese monks have a monastery some 1300 ft. high overlooking the aqua blue Pacific. One year I retreated for a week of contemplative prayer and worship. I happened to be there the same week the musician, John Michael Talbot, was making his own private retreat. He offered to give us a musical concert. About 20 of us were present in the chapel as he played his guitar and sang for an hour. At first nothing happened, but as I listened, a peace settled over me that was indescribable. I walked outside and noticed the waves below moving much slower than I ever remembered. Even the birds were chirping in slow motion! As I reflected on my life, everything seemed just right. Nothing could make this feeling go away. It was good to be there.
The next day, I got up and stood on the same spot hoping for the same feeling. Everything was in normal speed. The peace had lifted. I couldn’t capture it again, no matter how hard I tried or prayed. That day, I had to come down from the mountaintop. But, I was strengthened by an experience I’ll never forget. God had visited me with a glorious touch and I was fortified to go back to my real life in a fresh way. As we move through our Lent, we can expect a glimpse of glory, a foretaste of Easter, a touch of peace, so that we, as Abraham, can be sacrificially obedient and deal with the inevitable difficulties in the valley below.
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 12 books and creator of the TV program Live with Passion! airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/