06 Darkness can be RADIANT - Fr Thomas Rosica, CSB

posted Feb 22, 2018, 9:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 22, 2018, 9:01 AM ]
Moriah. Sinai. Nebo. Carmel. Horeb. Gilboa. Gerizim. Mount of the Beatitudes. Tabor. Hermon. Zion. Mount of Olives. Calvary. Golgotha. Mountains are often used in the Bible as the stages of important encounters between God and His people. Though we may have never visited the lands of the Bible, we are all familiar with these biblical mountains and the great events of our salvation history that took place there.

The Old Testament and Gospel reading of the second Sunday of Lent take place on two important biblical mountains—Mount Moriah and Mount Tabor. Both readings give us profound insights into our God and His Son, Jesus, who is our Saviour. First, let us consider the story of the sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham, as portrayed in Genesis 22:1-19. The story is called the Akedah in Hebrew (Anglicisation of the Aramaic word for 'binding') and it easily provokes scandal for the modern mind: What sort of God is this who can command a father to kill his own son?

How many pagan voices were assailing Abraham at this moment? What would a contemporary father do if he were to be called on to sacrifice his only son to God? He would be thought mad, if he even considered it, and unfaithful to God as well. What a poignant story indeed! "Take your son, your only son Isaac whom you love ... and offer him as a burnt offering. ... So Abraham rose early in the morning." Because Abraham listened to the Lord's messenger, his only son's life was spared. The binding of Isaac, then, is a symbol of life, not death, for Abraham is forbidden to sacrifice his son.

What happens on Mount Moriah finds an echo in what happens atop Mount Tabor and Mount Calvary in the New Testament. The mounts Moriah, Tabor and Calvary are significant places of vision in the Bible. For on these peaks, we see a God who never abandons us in our deepest despair, terror and death. God is with us through thick and thin, through day and night.

These mountains teach us that it is only when we are willing to let go of what we love most and cherish most in this life, to offer it back to God, the giver of all good gifts, that we can ever hope to receive it back in ways we never dreamed of or imagined. Only then will we experience resurrection, healing, consoling light and new life.

We can only speculate on what lies behind the story of the Transfiguration—one of the Gospel's most mysterious and awesome visions. (Mark 9:2-8; Matthew 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36). Peter, James and John had an overwhelming experience with the Lord on Mount Tabor. Following the night of temptation and preceding the blackness of Golgotha, the glorious rays of the Transfiguration burst forth. Before their eyes, the Jesus they had known and with whom they walked became transfigured. His countenance was radiant; his garments streaming with white light. At his side, enveloped in glory, stood Moses—the mighty liberator, who had led Israel out of slavery, and Elijah—the greatest of Israel's prophets.

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