Dear People of Saint Anne,
In today’s Gospel, Luke tells us that Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray. Jesus usually spent much time in prayer. As he began his ministry, after his Baptism in the Jordan and his time spent in the desert, Jesus did not fully know how his life would ultimately be, he did not know what destiny was waiting for him; he gradually discovered it through the enlightenment that he received through times of prayer.
It is in one of those intense spiritual moments (a mountain top moment) where Jesus becomes aware that he is called to save people, not through triumph but through defeat. Halfway through his Gospel, Luke starts to reveal thefirst signs of failure: the crowd, at first, enthusiastic, abandons Jesus. Some take him as a celebrity or as a subversive; his enemies begin to plot to kill him. It is understandable that Jesus now asks himself the way that the Father wants him to tread. For this, he goes up to the mountain to pray.
During prayer, we are told that his face changes. Luke doesn’t speak of Transfiguration, but a change of the face of Jesus. His face reveals the glory of someone who is united with God.
Every authentic encounter with God in prayer leaves some visible traces on the face of a person. We find ourselves more joyful and serene, relaxed and peaceful, tolerant, understanding and generous.
The three disciples who have witnessed the glory of Jesus, led by Peter, want to stay put in order to further enjoy this experience with their Master. They want to build tents and remain on the mountain. To understand better, we can refer to our own experiences with God in prayer. The concrete challenges, dramas, problems and anxieties of life that we have to confront can cause us fear and discouragement. We, too, would rather remain on that mountain top than come down and face reality.
Yet, Jesus offers the disciples and us an example; we have to come down from that mountain of glory, contentment, those days of retreat and quiet – and, empowered by glimpses of God-given glory and affirmation, we are asked by the Lord to serve our brothers and sisters, to help those who suffer, to be generous in extending our love to those in need. After discovering, in worship and prayer, the way we are called to go, we put ourselves on the way with Jesus who goes up to Jerusalem to offer life.