Bread in the Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

All Saints Catholic Church

This Sunday is the Second Sunday of Lent. The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent is always the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop. This year it is from Mark 9: 2-10. The first reading is Gen 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18. The second reading is from Romans 8: 31b-34.

So, we have two mountaintop experiences: Abraham and Isaac and Jesus with three disciples. We could also add a third mountaintop experience; that of Dr. Martin Luther King as we remember how he describes for us his “mountaintop” experience the night before he died.

First of all, we must quickly address the Abraham/Isaac mountaintop experience. It is shocking at first glance; here is God asking for human sacrifice and Abraham seemingly willing to do it. Or could it be that God is asking an end to human sacrifice, knowing that it was common at that time, especially the murder of children?

That is my opinion; God does not want or need anyone to die so that God can be placated. And that goes for any death, since God said you should not kill. But, in the name of God we continue to kill each other.

Jesus was on the mountaintop and transfigured before his disciples and He too was to walk into the jaws of death as a sacrificial victim. The experience of Jesus on the mountaintop, prior to His death and resurrection, was a sign for his followers that even though a violent death was in store, it was not the end and life would prevail over death.

Martin Luther King told us he too had a mountaintop experience and that gave him courage to not fear death. And for him death came on the morrow. And glory too. I’m sure he lived everyday with the real possibility of dying a violent death. He said as much. But, like Abraham and Isaac on the mountaintop. He saw a new heaven and a new earth where suffering and death would be no more and racial justice would be for real.

Our baptism transformed us. Sometimes we forget that. And just like Jesus we must be dedicated to transforming others. Through our prayer, our work for justice and peace, our constant drive to make things right where they are wrong is the way we live our baptism. And we can see the Promised Land, a land for all people, all colors, all religions, and all nations living in peace.

Every time we are open to the Spirit we are on the mountaintop. With that vision, let’s go down into the valleys and plains and bring the Spirit of peace and justice to our suffering world.