The Mountaintop

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the International Magnificat Leadership Conference in New Orleans. Magnificat is a ministry to Catholic women based on the friendship between Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her cousin, Elizabeth. The conference is held every other year and somehow I always manage a way to go. It’s one of those weekends where you are enveloped in grace, joy, peace, and all kinds of spiritual nourishment. Embracing dear friends who live on the other side of the country and even across the ocean, singing and praising God with hundreds of women, listening to encouraging and challenging homilies and spirit-filled speakers is such a wonderful and uplifting experience. It is a time of renewal and refreshment for wearied souls, and each time I attend this event, I return home enriched and strengthened in my faith.

It was rather amazing that the Gospel reading for the Sunday closing liturgy was the Transfiguration. We are familiar with the story of how Jesus took his friends, Peter, James and John with him up a high mountain and was transfigured before their very eyes. The scripture says that “His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as light.” Moses and Elijah also appeared to them and conversed with the Lord. Then, it says, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them and out of the cloud they heard a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” What an amazing and magnificent experience they had with such a vision! They didn’t want to leave. And I think most of people at the conference felt the same way about the weekend.

We sometimes hear people talk about a mountaintop experience. It’s when you are completely surrounded by God’s peace and love, or enjoying a much needed vacation, or participating in an activity that brings you great joy. We never want that time to come to an end. We want to stay there forever and never go back down into the valley. Have you ever felt that way before? I know I have. The “valley” may represent the monotony of every day life, the piles of dirty laundry and the drudgery of other menial tasks, driving in rush hour traffic, listening to complaints from co-workers, picking up after the kids for the millionth time, etc. Well, my idea of that changed after listening to the homily given by the bishop of New Orleans, the Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond. He said, “The mountaintop is not a place. It’s about relationship.” I knew those were profound words so I scribbled them down and have been thinking about them since. 

Could it possibly be that we can be transformed each and every day, no matter where we are or what is going on at the time, whether it be cleaning the kitchen, wiping runny noses, paying bills, or caring for an elderly loved one? Clearly, then, our own mountaintop is about what our relationship is with Jesus Christ. If we are closely united to Him, through prayer, the sacraments, scripture reading, and sacrifice, then each moment, each breath we take is holy. It is He who makes all things new, who lifts us from our burdens and gives us grace without measure to be His body on the earth. Our daily duty is a gift, even though it may not be wrapped up in a tidy and pretty bow. Sometimes it is wrapped in the shape of a cross. But what glory comes from the cross! 

So here we are, in the middle of Lent, celebrating Christ’s Transfiguration and our very own transformation into His image. As we place ourselves in His presence each day, listening to the Voice of God’s beloved Son, may our faces shine like the sun and may His light in us dispel the darkness of the valley.