Second Sunday of Lent
Today’s Gospel and readings have to do with mountains. They are the place of wonder, of grandeur at the sight of God’s creation.
If you have ever climbed a mountain or hill, you notice that the sounds of human existence – traffic, farm machinery die away, and as you climb higher then you might hear more clearly birdsong and the bleating of sheep, the buzz of insects, the crunching of the ground beneath your feet. Then finally, at the summit silence, nothing but the wind.
Hill-walking has become a great modern occupation and interest especially among city dwellers. There is something refreshing and re-creation-al about ‘getting away’ from the sights and sounds of the city, as well as the distractions of noise in the home, and pressing concerns at work a, to a different place, a slowing down, to the constancy of the mountain and nature.
We remember there and then that we are as Fr Robert Barron said, human beings, and not human doings. We think that we are defined by what we do. So often to break the ice, a person we have just met will ask us: ‘so what do you do?’
So many people retire and found themselves wondering what to do. 5000 people in the public sector have just retired as part of the terms offered by the Croke Part agreement. I wonder how they will get on ‘not needed’ at work anymore. Sometimes retirement, or even just stopping after a busy schedule leaves us bewildered and dizzy and unsure of ourselves as to what to do next. We have so often allowed the demands of work and others define us, that we can be a disoriented when there is nothing to do. Hence the need to find that we are not to define ourselves by having, doing clutter and noise. Or else we will not know what to do with silence. We are all in such a mad tear to get things done, and for what? The house will never be tidy to our satisfaction, it is never done, the desk will always have paperwork, the children or grandchildren will always have problems, so when will we stop and take time out and accept these facts, and that so many are outside of our control.
Taking time out this Lent is also spiritually fruitful. Time apart in silence is so important.
Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here
It is good for us to be with the Lord in a place of silence to get away to listen to stop to pause.
The great events of the Bible often took place on a mountain or hill – the building of the ark, the near sacrifice of Abel, the 10 commandments, the encounters of the prophets; and in the Gospels – the sermon on the Mount, the place of the Transfiguration, the hill of Calvary – where heaven and earth meet, where God reveals Himself to us.
The mountain is the great place of encounter, but the necessary silence comes first.
To know what God wants we have to slow down, turn off noise, and listen to the silence.
There all Jesus wants is our presence. How often in life our presence alone matters, at a bedside, a visit to hospital – we remember the visit more than the conversation, at a funeral, or at happy occasions - at as wedding or christening - we thank people for coming when words matter less. You simply want the person to be there because you value their company and want to share the joy. As a priest the words I hear most often are - ‘thanks for being there’. ‘You were there when it mattered.’
What does Jesus ever ask of His disciples – but to be there?
Abide with me, remain with me, come and see, come to me all you are burdened and I will refresh you, keep watch with me.
Let us find a place of encounter – the Mount, and Mount Melleray are the places ‘apart’locally that you and can I find the Lord.
Let us learn to be still this Lent.
Let us learn to be human beings again.
Posted by FrJohnCobh