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As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

I ask God for the grace to be surprised by Jesus’ invitation.

Prayer Text

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. 

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 

So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Mark 9: 2-10

Reflection

By Brendan O’Kane

When my father asked if I would be interested in joining my cousins and a couple of his friends to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, my initial reaction was, “Absolutely!” Over the next few months, I gradually learned what this meant. I didn’t know the difference between a technical or non-technical climb. Thankfully, this was the latter and the main action for this journey would be to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make sure to listen to the guide — his name was Juma.

As a long-distance runner, I figured I was ready for all challenges, and there were days I picked up the pace only to look at Juma who kept it slow and steady, with a quiet and joyful confidence. My focus, however, was the summit and I wanted to get there as quickly as possible. When we did, a few days later, I was overwhelmed and had a deep sense of accomplishment.

Soon after, Juma said we couldn’t stay there for much longer and prepared us for the next phase — the way back down the mountain. “No problem!” I remember thinking. Well, it was a problem. My legs and lungs burned, and my head ached from my overzealousness. My plan only got me to the top, but the journey was only halfway over. Rookie mistake.

This story reminds me of the Transfiguration because it reaffirms the importance of paying attention, obeying and being patient. This is how we prepare for the future. Sometimes I get wrapped up in what exactly Jesus was trying to say about God’s kingdom. John R. Donahue, SJ, and Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, suggest, “A more helpful approach to the text is to say that it is a ‘christophany,’ that is, a manifestation or revelation of who Jesus Christ really is.” Throughout his life, Jesus tells all who will listen and shows who he is through his words and actions, and this time he does so with a dazzling exclamation mark!

At times I find myself back on the mountain, thinking I have all the answers, laser-focused on a goal, only listening to the voices that affirm my thinking. Meanwhile, Jesus is constantly teaching me about who he is and the plans that are in store for my life — in whispers and awe-inspiring moments. He invites me to trust and listen to him and the people around me who are working to ensure my well-being. I now have a new appreciation for the descent, and I know Jesus is leading me back home, one step at a time.

 

Questions for Contemplation

  • Put yourself in the scene with Jesus and the disciples going up the mountain. Do you find yourself truly following Jesus? Or, do you make assumptions about where you think Jesus is going, projecting your own wants and biases? How might you invite Jesus to lead you through this week?
  • What gets in the way of following Jesus? What voices crowd out that of the Spirit? 

Closing Prayer

God of the mountain, as I climb my own personal mountain this Lent, help me to see that I do not climb alone. You are there—in the wind and the rain, in the faces of my fellow climbers, in the very mountain itself. Remind me to look for you, to hear your voice, and to welcome your Spirit washing over me as I reach the summit and, ultimately, descend that same mountain. Amen.

Meet the Writer

Brendan O’Kane currently serves as the Director of Ignatian Mission and Identity at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, MD. He holds a master’s in educational leadership and another in theological studies. In July 2024, Brendan will become the new president of Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Georgia.