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Holy Land Pilgrimage

Of Wishes, Presence, and God’s Essence

March 3, 2019

Matt 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-ff

As we drove to Mount Tabor (Mountain of the Transfiguration, Matt 17:1-8), I wished the weather could come alive, as different people read the weather and made comments and forecasts. I wished this would happen as a sign of a good day of reflection and meditation ahead on the mountain and also so that I could get a view and let myself take it all in. However, the skies adamantly remained grey, gloomy and depressed. Well, maybe not the skies, but my wishes for a sunny sky did hit a resistance from the heavens. But clear weather or not, I was up for another deep spiritual encounter up the mountain of Tabor. Once we all gathered in front of the beautiful Church of the Transfiguration, Matthew 16:1 – 17:8 was read… and a part of the words (Matt. 16:1-3) spoke to my wishes for a sunny sky as a sign: “…they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered… “when it is evening, you say, ‘it will be fair weather; for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

There I stood, transfixed and gratefully amazed at how clear the Word of God spoke to me. What is the sign of this particular time that I am missing? At that moment, the chapter 17:1 (“…Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother and led them up a high mountain apart.”) spoke to me. Jesus has brought me here, to a mountain apart from the other places, he has brought me here particularly, apart from every other person who was with me in the group. The weather didn’t need to be fair or clement or bright, I do not need the views or scenery to contemplate… I was here to encounter the radiance of his light. A light to enlighten any darkness in me. And all I had to do was be here at Mount Tabor and “…listen to him,” (Matt. 17:5). My words weren’t important, for in the amazement of the disciples Peter spoke to the Lord, asking that three tents be built for him (Jesus), Moses and Elijah. But the scriptures point out clearly that “…He was STILL speaking, when behold, a bright cloud said: ‘This is my beloved Son…LISTEN TO HIM.” (Matthew 17:5). In this invitation of encounter words are unimportant. Thereof, my encounter began. Like the apostles, after hearing this, “I fell on my face” (17:6) in deep prayerful silence… listening.

As I write these words, after a deep and powerful encounter at Mount Tabor, I wonder with you – reading them: Are there times when we just want to report situations to God or excitingly tell God how amazed we are or how frustrated, confused, annoyed, hurt we are with a certain situation(s)? Are there moments, where we rather seek other experiences than the one God is taking us apart from the others for? Are there moments we slowly drift from our daily Mount Tabor?

As I continue to wonder with you and myself too, I pray God to always show us the signs of times that we may follow… to our daily Mountain of Transfiguration. AMEN.

Angelbert Chikere

Diocese of San Jose

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