|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mountaintops and Valleys
Second Sunday of Lent – February 21, 2016
Life has a certain cycle to it. It ebbs and flows in ways that are sometimes predictable but not always so easy to experience. Each and every day there is a rhythm: there is light and darkness in each day. Then our seasons, springtime comes and we see those beautiful flowers start to appear and the branches producing their leaves and flowers, it is gorgeous to see when the fullness of summer arrives. Then Fall arrives and the leaves start to drop and we get ready for the stark coldness of winter. This is the cycle of life that happens on an annual basis. This also happens in our lifetime too.
When our children are born and they are young, everything about it seems to be full of joy, they grow up and they learn; they do stuff and it is wonderful to watch them grow. There is such a great joy from that. Yet at the end of life, we also witness as our parents get old and frail, and it is hard to watch them suffer. Two ends of the same spectrum of life itself. Yet God is in the midst of all of it.
In today’s gospel reading about the Transfiguration is a reminder that God is present in the mountain top experience but also it is in the next section of the gospel when Jesus comes down from the mountain. All three synoptic gospels are in agreement as to what happens next, Jesus comes down the mountain and the other disciples present him with a young boy who is possessed by a demon they cannot seem to expel. So Christ heals the young boy. This acts as a reminder to us that there are mountain top experiences and there are valley experiences. Christ is present to us through both of those circumstances. No matter where we are, Christ is there.
In a dark cloud, the voice from heaven says, “Listen to Christ. Listen to Him.” We are called to listen to Christ, who is always with us. Sometimes it is hard for us to fathom that reality. In our good times it is sometimes easier to see God present to us. But when things are not going so well, it is often harder to know that God is with us.
That is what we come to celebrate at the Eucharist on Sunday. There are some of us for whom everything is going wonderfully, and then there are others who are really struggling. But we come to the table to gather strength from one another, to receive Christ and to be reassured that Christ is with us at all times, on the mountaintops and in the valleys; in the light and in the darkness. Christ is always with us. We come to believe that reality and then to leave here and live that reality. Christ is always with us.