Called to the Mountain, but not to Stay
March 6, 2018
My classmates and I have now been in the Holy Land for several weeks. We have seen so many sites and places that we know historically from reading Scripture. Three that stand out for me personally are the Mount of the Transfiguration, the Via Dolorosa that weaves through the streets of Jerusalem and the empty tomb of Jesus.
We had the opportunity to visit the Mount of Transfiguration and read the passage from Mark 9:2-8. Mark tells us that Jesus took Peter, John and James to the top of the mountain and there he was transfigured. Peter offered to build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah who had appeared alongside Jesus. It seems that Peter was ready to settle in on top of the mountain. But that was not Jesus’ plan. Jesus knew there was more to come and told Peter, John and James not to tell anyone what they saw, “until the Son of Man has risen from the dead”. I am sure the men were very puzzled by this statement and probably more so as events unfolded in Jerusalem.
As I walked the Via Dolorosa with my classmates and prayed the stations of the Cross in the same place where Jesus was humiliated and suffered I found myself so tired and exhausted. I started to understand why Peter suggested to stay on the mountain; he was not ready for the Way of the Cross. Lastly, some of my classmate and I had an opportunity to celebrate Holy Mass in the empty tomb of Jesus. So, while I was reminded of my mortality I remembered that Jesus’s body is not in the tomb, it is within me. There is an immortality that is inscribed in my inner being (soul) that neither death, suffering or persecution have power over.
I am reminded that the Lord calls each one of us to this mountain, but he doesn’t want us to stay there because our Christian calling is to go and make disciples of all nations. Every time we feel too relaxed or comfortable, we must ask ourselves whether we are still following Jesus who did not build his tent on the Mount of Transfiguration; His tent was fully realized in Jerusalem at Calvary where death and sin were defeated. This indeed was the journey. I pray I will follow in the footsteps of Jesus by following his teachings and always being open to move where the Holy Spirit leads me.
By Sabelo Luthuli (Diocese of Eshowe, South Africa)
Photos by Declan McNicholas (Diocese of Gary) and Peter Pedrasa (Diocese of Tucson)