Switzerland is a nation of hikers, we like to hike and go for long walks. Recently, I was on the Weisshorn in Arosa, which is over 2,653 meters above sea level. With skis on my feet, I was enjoying the view. My attention was seized by the beauty of the mountains, the magnificent scenery. It was incredibly beautiful, and I felt deep gratitude. There are various ways to climb a mountain peak. One can either walk up or comfortably enjoy a cable car ride. Either way, at the top, above the clouds, it seems that freedom is boundless, and worries and problems that weigh down and plague life are far away. Perhaps some of us feel a certain lightness and inner satisfaction in such moments. The prospect of such a sight or even the knowledge of such overwhelming moments strengthens and motivates us not to give up on the climb to the summit. The goal is so enticing that we endure painstaking efforts to reach them.
Goals, no matter how daring, should be realistic and tangible. No matter how ambitious, such goals can help us grow and re-direct ourselves. They are like magnets that attract us and set us in motion. Mr. Theodor Heuss was the first Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1959.
He said: "The purpose of traveling is to reach a destination; the purpose of hiking is to be on the move." This quote is very profound and makes a distinguish between traveling and hiking.
Reading From Genesis
In our First Reading (Gen 12:1-4a), we hear about the sending of Abram by the Lord. Was the Father of God’s people, Abram, later Abraham, traveling or sent on a journey by God? I believe both: The goal of his journey was the promised land. The purpose of this journey to the promised land was the experience of road on which he and his family could prove themselves in faith, hope, and love. On this journey, Abram was to become a blessing to all.
Does the Christian faith have a goal? What hope and confidence does the Christian faith give us?
Today's Gospel from Matthew (17:1-9) presents humans with the goal of a Christian journey. It is about transformation process. Along this healing journey, God tries to touch, to move, and to heal the hearts of people, to heal that which is wounded. Jesus tries to raise up those who are destroyed and broken on the ground. But, I do not know if I always want THAT change, that transformation, making an effort, getting involved and taking risks. It is sometimes too strenuous, too unrealistic. Why? Because ultimately, nothing really ever changes.
That is exactly why it is good not to be alone on this journey in life and faith. Jesus takes his friends on a hike up a mountain. Peter, James, and John. They are on this journey together and share the hardships that occur along the way. They can motivate and support each other in the strenuous climb.
What Is A Christian?
This is one of the most important pillars of Christianity. I quote the early Christian author from the Roman province of African (Quintus Septimius Florens) Tertullian, who lived at the beginning of the third century: "A Christian alone is no Christian."And this being-a-Christian happens concretely everywhere I live, work, love, share and suffer. Being a Christian happens here, together, in our journey, where we share life in all its highs and lows.
Could it be that the alienation of people from themselves, from one another, and from God ultimately has its roots in fear? Fear of a God who restricts personal freedom with His demands, Fear of others, because they might question my existence. Fear of oneself, because there might be something within me that I don't like? Who am I really? Who do I want to be for myself and for others, what do I want to believe and hope for myself and with others?
Let us return to the mountain of Transfiguration and remember the goal of our earthly journey. Man is a being of openness. He is a being created for love, life, and fulfilment. In Jesus Christ, we recognize our way as beloved children of God. This is how the Gospel describes it: His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light. It is about transformation, fulfilment, and completion. The transformed person becomes a blessing to the world. I can understand very well the three friends of Jesus when they wanted to stay on the mountain - in this divine atmosphere. The divine voice confirms Jesus as the Son of God. Moses and Elijah are representing the law and the prophets from the Old Coveanant. Jesus Christ brings with his life and love the law and prophets to fulfilment. Jesus Christ is the new Adam, He is the new Abraham. Jesus is not just a blessing for the world - but the Healer, Redeemer, and Savior of the world.
We Are Invited
In today's Gospel, Jesus invites his friends to go back down to the valley, back to everyday life, because it is there, in that very place, that they can be salt of the earth and light of the world.
May this Lenten Season help us to shine like the sun, to live as transformed friends of Jesus.
Praise be to Jesus Christ.