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Climbing mountains

The story is told about a grandfather who saw an elderly woman enter an elevator. After some minutes, the elevator door opened and out came a young and beautiful woman! Upon seeing this, he excitedly told his grandson: “Quick! Go look for your grandmother and bring her to that elevator!”

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In today’s Gospel (Mk. 9, 2-10), Jesus was transfigured before the very eyes of His disciples Peter, James and John. His clothes became dazzling white. Not only His glory but also His being the Divine Son were revealed to them. It was an unforgettable religious experience for His weak followers, who needed faith and assurance. It was a mountaintop, a peak experience, that gave them the strength to face the difficult realities yet to come. The transfiguration happened because there was a prior mountain climb. Our own transfiguration and transformation take time, but the assurance is that God has mapped everything out, and He is with us.

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Anyone who has not gone through a religious experience or a faith experience is bound to be empty and shallow. People who have undergone pain, deprivation, sickness, or persecution come out of it stronger, and more in tune with the Divine. We all need to go up a high mountain to experience the presence and the reality of God in our lives. Sooner or later, no matter how we avoid, deny, or postpone it, God will catch up with us. That is not a threat. It is a consolation, a welcome assurance filled with hope.

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Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain. He had to set them apart; otherwise, their vision and orientation would remain myopic and blurred. When the Lord sets us apart, it is to help us grow up and level up. Tears make us see more clearly. Pain makes us suffer, but it sets us free. Our fears shatter and rattle us, but they also lead us to trust more in God. Loneliness can so hurt us, but makes us cling more to God. Deprivations humble us, but make us more dependent on God. Sickness, separation and even death scare us, but these will not separate us from the love of God.

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God speaks more clearly and more loudly when we go through trials and problems. But the problem is that the evil one also speaks loudly during the difficult moments of our lives, tempting us to give up, or take the easy way out, or seek consolation and relief from what this world readily offers. When God leads us to climb a mountain, let us be obedient, hold on to His hand, and just listen to Him—not to our own voice, to the people around us, or to the world that taunts us.

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Some people can be so prayerful but do not change for the better. Why? Transformation does not happen because often, instead of transforming ourselves, we try to transform God and other people according to our desires and expectations. Real prayer is simply listening, letting go, and letting God.

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Someone once said that communication often fails because we do not really listen. To borrow a line from a song: “Hey/Have you ever tried/Really reaching out/To the other side?”

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Real transfiguration and transformation happen not when we are at the center stage or on the fast lane. As seeds sprout and grow in the darkness and in hidden places, real growth happens in the silence, in the candle glow, in our aloneness, on our bended knees. There is a vast world of information readily accessible and available in our modern world, but it is all data and news about this and that, about who and what, and it could end up just that. If we really pray, information can lead us to our formation and transformation.

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For those going through a mountain climb of any sort, please remember that the climb is necessary. Please remember, too, that we climb mountains slowly and there is no hurry. Part of the climb is making stops to rest a while, and to enjoy the view. And be assured, we climb not alone, but with God on our side.

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Sharing with you this inspiring text message I received recently: “God is the perfect guide in life’s journey; His strength overcomes our weaknesses; His grace fills our emptiness; His presence accompanies our loneliness; His shoulder carries us through life’s burdens and difficulties. So let us walk with God every day. Yes, He is with us, every step along the way!”

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Here is a beautiful thought of St. Francis de Sales as we go through changes and mountain climbs in life: “Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life; rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His loving arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same understanding Creator who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day; God will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Lord, remind me that, especially when I climb a mountain, You are so near, and You are truly present. Amen.

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TAGS: challenges, climbing mountains, FAITH, Religious experience, Transfiguration, transformation
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