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Being open in trust to God

Alex Honnold embarks on an epic quest of unclimbed walls in one of the most remote corners of Greenland. Honnold has always dreamed of exploring Greenland and its unclimbed peaks. Now he and world-class climbers Hazel Findlay and Mikey Schaefer attempt to summit Ingmikortilaq, an unclimbed Arctic sea cliff that rises 3,750 feet out of the frozen wilderness.

The climb is incredible, as the climbers search for the tiniest of footholds and crevices to get to the summit. At one point, concerned about the dangers of the climb with limited equipment, Mikey Schaefer decides not to continue the climb. Alex and Hazel continue the treacherous climb and do arrive at the summit. Once at the summit Alex and Hazel celebrate their accomplishment.

On this second Sunday of Lent in today’s first reading and Gospel, we are privy to two other mountaintop experiences, that of Abraham and the one Jesus shared with Peter, James and John. Abraham’s story is shocking, to say the least. He and Sarah had long awaited the birth of Isaac and had all but given up when three mysterious visitors, to whom Abraham offered generous hospitality, told them to expect a son in a year’s time (Gen 18). Isaac’s birth was a miracle; he was a beloved only son, and yet God was asking for his life? And Abraham was ready to obey?

The hard lesson here is to be open in utter trust to God, even when we do not understand the reason or outcome. Abraham sets the course for us, be totally dependent on God and do God’s will.

In the Gospel, Mark tells us that Jesus went up a high mountain with Peter, James and John and was transfigured before them. Mark includes the cloud which was a traditional symbol of the divine presence, and the voice from the cloud identified Jesus as God’s Son and called upon Jesus’ disciples to listen to him. This account is a reminder to occasionally pause (retreat), getting away from it all so as to gain a perspective that cannot be had in the midst of the fray.

These mountain experiences give direction that Lent is to be a time to step out of the hectic pace of our everyday life to pray quietly seeking God’s will. On our “mountain,” (prayer room, nature walk, church visit) we can rethink priorities, set goals and evaluate our relationship with God and with others. It is also a time for realizing that God is God and I am not.

At the summit Alex and Hazel celebrated their accomplishment with exuberant joy. Abraham was blessed because of his unquestioning obedience, as God did not desire Isaac to be sacrificed. Peter, James, and John were so exhilarated that they wanted to stay at the summit. Perhaps each of us has had that spiritual moment we wished would not end.

But mountaintop experiences are not perpetual. They are pauses that renew and refresh us. Then, when we are called to descend from the mountain and face anew the events of everyday life, we will find ourselves better equipped to do so.

Blessings on your Lenten journey! Fr. Ron

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