2nd Sunday of Lent | March 12, 2017
Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
I still remember my 1st mountain top experience.
I was 17 and had just climbed to the top of one of the mountains nestled in the Alps. The view literally took my breath away. The vastness, the silence, the beauty.
God seemed to be in every moment of that experience.
In the air I breathed.
In the wind that brushed across my face.
In the sun that enveloped me.
In the horizon that unfolded before me.
I didn’t want to leave. I could have stayed on that mountain top forever.
For God seemed so close, so real.
As a young man who doubted. As a young man who questioned the divine. This mountain top brought me to tears. For the God who seemed so elusive suddenly seemed so tangible.
It was as if a voice had come from the clouds for me that day.
This is my beloved son.
I claim him as my own.
Maybe that is why I have always resonated with the Scripture passages that have people encounter God on mountains.
Jesus and the disciples.
It just makes sense that God and mountains go together.
For mountains seem to give a vantage point that makes it easier to see. We are lifted above the normal busyness and messiness of life and granted a new perspective on ourselves, on each other and on our God.
But what happens when the mountain top isn’t glorious? What happens when the mountain top is barren and devoid of life? What happens when one climbs the mountain top and discovers that they are alone?
What happens when the mountain we climb is not the Mount of Transfiguration but the Mount of Calvary?
I think back to a year ago when we 1st learned of the car accident that shattered several lives in an instant.
I think back to that funeral and standing beside Fr. Beretta as we both cried as the coffin was carried down the steps.
I think of getting the phone call the same day as the funeral that told me that one of my Nativity parents was in her final hours.
I remember kneeling beside her as she breathed her last breath, promising to look after her children when she was gone. I remember that solitary tear that escaped her eyes and the quiet beep of a heart that had flatlined.
I was standing on another mountain top in those weeks. But unlike my experience in the Alps, beauty seemed elusive. All seemed shrouded in darkness and pain.
And yet, God still seemed so present in those moments.
Even in the darkness, I could see the pinpoints of light breaking through.
Even in the agonizing pain, I could feel the strong embrace
Even in the terrifying silence, I could hear the whispers that continue to echo through the ages.
You are my beloved son.
I claim you as my own.
My friends, I am convinced that our lives are a series of mountain tops that we ascend and descend.
Some of these mountain tops will be awesome.
They will literally steal our breath away.
A first kiss.
A baby’s cry
A bended knee
An answered prayer
Others will be awful.
As if the air was ripped out of our lungs.
I’m sorry. There’s nothing more we can do.
Better luck next time.
And in between, our lives will be a mix of blessedness and brokenness. As we strive to be holy in the circumstances that we find ourselves . . . whether as students or teachers, parents or siblings, spouses or co-workers.
But no matter where we are on the journey. Whether on the Mount of Transfiguration, Mount Calvary or somewhere in between.
Our God is with us.
Shouting from the heights, whispering into the darkness, and reminding us each and every moment.
We are his beloved sons and daughters.
He claims us as his own.
May God be Praised