Today I am thinking about mountaintops and valleys, crosses and consolations.
Tomorrow is the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which Peter, John and James have the very first "mountaintop experience" of any Christian. Jesus takes the three disciples up to the top of Mount Tabor to pray, and he is transfigured in divine glory in front of them.
I think that most of us Christians know a little about mountaintop experiences.
Looking back, I have had many mountaintop experiences in my own life that, together, provide a firm foundation for my hope in Christ even when crosses in my life can weigh heavily upon me.
Beautiful moments in prayer as a child. Strong friendships and my active, supportive Catholic community in college. Profound experiences on retreats and youth ministry events. The summer I met my husband at camp. Mission trips. My wedding day. The births of my three children. And so many other small moments of joy, consolation, and unity with God along the way.
I read an excerpt today from a homily by Pope St. Leo the Great that for the first time made me think about the Transfiguration in light of my own life:
"The great reason for this transfiguration was the remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of his disciples, and to prevent the humiliation of his voluntary suffering from disturbing the faith of those who had witnessed the surpassing glory that lay concealed. With no less forethought he was also providing a firm foundation for the hope of holy Church. The whole body of Christ was to understand the kind of transformation that it would receive as his gift. The members of that body were to look forward to a share in that glory which first blazed out in Christ their head."Don't let a few fancy vocabulary words (i.e. "the scandal of the cross") get in the way of the powerful message.
Christ gave these three disciples the gift of a real-life mountaintop experience that imprinted itself so mightily on their hearts that the "scandal of the cross"--the upcoming Passion and Crucifixion--would not be able to "disturb" their faith in the Resurrection.
That is what the mountaintop experiences in our lives are meant to do for us. They cement our faith and help us to carry on with hope and trust during hard times. They are a blessing in the moment, and a consolation as a memory. We have to find our own "firm foundation" of peace in knowing where all of this--and hopefully all of us--are headed: "a share in that glory which first blazed out in Christ [our] head."
May God bless each of you with grace for the moment and a firm faith in His goodness and mercy!