Second Sunday of Lent reflection: our mountaintop experience


By Lourdes Hernandez
For The Catholic Messenger


The readings for this Second Sunday of Lent are profound and, at moments, confusing. I wonder what it all means and how the messages are visible in the Church today. In the first reading, God puts Abraham to the test, instructing him to offer up his son as a holocaust. This test is troubling and parents everywhere have plenty to say on the matter. Looking at it through a different lens, I realize that we are all put to a test in different ways. This first reading causes me to question the strength of my faith in God. Is it as bold as Abraham’s? Have I encountered a challenge “up a mountain” where I wrestle with what I hold most precious in life at the risk of losing it all? What do I make of that?

Then we have this intense Gospel reading describing the Transfiguration of Jesus, a moment where Jesus is radically changed or transfigured. Peter does not seem to know how to react except to want to stay there and build tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.  I imagine hearing the booming voice of God from the clouds — and then nothing. Everything is “back to normal.” What just happened?

Clearly, I tend to ask too many questions for the sake of understanding where I fit in with all of this. My mind begins forming patterns in what Abraham encounters, in what Peter sees and expresses and in the beautiful gift that we have in the Mass and Church.


Abraham was challenged to give up his beloved child, whom he had asked for and loved above everything. When God called, Abraham responded, “Here I am!” His obedience, I believe, comes from full faith that God is God — a God of true, unconditional love. A love that is far beyond what our minds are capable of understanding, a love that is untainted or weak; a love that is pure and stronger than any other thing.

Peter’s faith seemed to be evolving. I feel that the Transfiguration of Jesus is the moment where Peter understands that Jesus is the Son of God, human and divine. Peter’s reaction, wanting to make tents so they can all stay, makes more sense to me now. I think about how I would react. I would want to stay.

That faith in Jesus and just wanting to be in his presence always reminds me of adoration. We have this beautiful gift where we can simply enjoy being with him. We don’t have to go up the mountain. Jesus is here fully and present. During Mass, I relate the moment of consecration with the Transfiguration because it is so far beyond words. We are in the presence of the Holy Spirit transforming the ordinary into the absolute true, pure unconditional love of God: Jesus. I want to stay there. I want to be still, head bowed just adoring the gift that God gives us, even though I feel unworthy. I look up at that tiny host with a faith like Abraham and the weakening of the knees I imagine Peter felt. I want to stay there before Jesus always but I also want everyone to encounter him.

Sharing the fact that Jesus is truly and fully present in the Mass and during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is not easy. I think that is why Lent is so necessary. We receive the opportunity to strip away the things that distract us and weaken our faith. These 40 days are stepping-stones to live our lives as Jesus did.

We can offer up our fast for the strength to rely entirely on him. We can give alms in such ways as our time, being there for a friend in need, giving to those in need, sharing a meal with someone — all without the expectation of an invitation back or applause. We can pray, pray deeply for our faith to grow and be bold. Pray for our actions and words to be representative of Jesus. This is how Lent can guide us home to the True Presence. A home where we are all one body of Christ united by the unconditional love given to us by God.

We can all have that tremendous and intense faith and feel weak in the knees when we are in God’s presence, in the Mass, at adoration and in the greater community. This is where we build on tents and have a mountaintop experience. 

(Lourdes Hernandez is a member of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City and serves on the Evangelization & Stewardship Committee, Hispanic Ministry, and Welcome Committee.)

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