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February 21, 2016

Twomen were hunting and got lost in the bush for days.  The first man said, “I’m afraid we’re going to die here.” The second man replied, “Friend, you know I make fifty thousand dollars a week.”  The first man shouted back, “Do away with your money.  Can your money buy our lives?”  The second man said in a low firm voice, “I told you I make fifty thousand dollars a week, my parish cannot survive without my contribution; my priest, with his closeness to God, surely has a way to find me.”

It looks like Peter, James and John getting lost on the mountain as the Gospel says, “Peter did not know what he said.”

After talking about his Passion and the Cross, his disciples were confused how that could happen to their hero.  Then the Lord led them to the mountain to reveal his true glory which belonged to him for eternity.  The Transfiguration gave Peter, James and John a spiritual shot in the arm before facing the Passion of the Lord.  Perhaps that is also why the Church includes this reading for Lent.  The Church wants to give us a spiritual shot in the arm before turning our attention to the Passion and Death of Jesus in Jerusalem on Good Friday.

In fact in the midst of glory, what were Jesus, Moses and Elijah talking about?  They were talking about his departure and the accomplishment of his mission.  Peter, James and John were prepared to accept this.  The Lord wanted to strengthen their faith.  Their faith is strong in today’s gospel, but sometime later, their faith almost goes out in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Our faith has its ups and downs, high points and low points.  During a high point we feel so close to Jesus that we can touch him.  We feel so close to God that he seems to have his arms around us.  And the Holy Spirit seems to speak to us.  We say like the apostles said, “Master, it is good for us to be here.”

On the other hand, when we are experiencing a low point, our faith flickers and almost goes out like the apostles’ faith in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We feel the absence of God.  We feel like God has abandoned us.  Life becomes a burden.  Happiness seems far away.  Suffering seems to be a companion.  In these moments we should remember what the Lord has gone through.

The Lord did not stay on the mountain.  He went down to face the reality.  The suffering people were waiting for him.  His mission had not been complete.  He had to do the Father’s will.  That is to go to Jerusalem and offer himself on the cross.  Our journey will never be complete unless we follow Jesus through passion, death and resurrection.