Mountains and Valleys

Mountains and Valleys
by Bishop Robert Moreau

Gen 12:1-4a; 2 Tim 1:8b-10; Matt 17:1-9

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here.

If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Matt 17:4)


The camera industry has flourished because we humans long to hang on to experiences of beauty and goodness. So we fill our albums with photos from baptisms and weddings, picnics and anniversaries, mountains and sunsets, stars and rainbows. Since Peter forgot his camera, he thought that by building three shelters, the experience of the transfigured Jesus might be sustained. After all, how could Moses and Elijah leave when such thoughtful hospitality was being offered?

Human life is transitory. Things come and go in successive fashion and we are forever trying to hang on to the patches of beauty and goodness that come our way. These mountain­top experiences are special and powerful graces. Yet, down the mountain we go since our life in the valley has its own significance. The challenge for Peter, James, and John (and us as well) is to have the vision of faith to see Jesus manifest as much in the valley as on the mountaintop.

Brother Edward Seifert, a member of the Christian Brothers, wrote a poem titled “On the Ridge.” In it, the poet raises the question of what it would be like to live up high on a ridge, overlooking the beauty of autumn forests, a winding river, rolling hills. Although this geography offers its special blessing—as does listening to a symphony or having morning tea—we cannot make this “place” a permanent residence. No, down into the valley we must go while not forgetting the “sudden look of creation” that we received.

The transfiguration is about contemplation and action. Our lives are about those gracious moments of loving attention to God’s truth, goodness, and beauty, as well as the summons to serve and to encounter Jesus in the community of humankind. One can feel the tension inside Peter as he longed to remain atop the mountain and yet wanted to do what Jesus asked of him.

What have been some of your mountaintop experiences? How do you deal with the transitoriness of life?Describe the valley God has called you to.
Jesus, you manifested yourself to Peter, James, and John on the mountain. You manifest yourself to us in Scripture and sacraments, in community and the movements of our hearts. Help us to see your glory; help us to serve you in our needy sisters and brothers.

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