26th February 2018

The Scripture readings for the second Sunday of Lent highlight two words – sacrifice and transfiguration.  The word sacrifice means to make holy which calls for a wholehearted response to life.  In order to sacrifice oneself for others a transfiguration from who you think you are and what others think of you needs to change to an appreciation of who you are in relation to everyone and everything else in the bigger view of life.

Last week we pondered the story of the forty day experience of Jesus in the desert and what that could mean for him and us. This week we find him heading up the mountain of Tabor to experience a transforming event. (Mark 9 : 2-10)  There he got a clearer picture of what he wanted to say and do for the mission he was about to undertake among the people.  He discovered himself as beloved of God, a conviction which would remain unshaken through the challenging and difficult journey that lay ahead of him.

It was a beautiful Sunday in  Glendalough and it was hard to resist the call of the great outdoors which is on our doorstep in this place. We travelled by car to the Wicklow Gap, 1567 feet above sea level. That was the easy part.  From the car park, there is a paved road to the top of Turlough hill on Camaderry mountain which is 2296 ft.high.  The road to the summit is a long winding uphill road which takes the best part of an hour to walk.  Every step counts from one bend to another, each step getting a little nearer to the summit which always remains out of sight.  It is necessary to stop and rest a few times to slow down the breath and admire the wonderful scenery in every direction.

At one viewpoint there is a good view of lake Nahanagan.  This is a corrie lake from the Ice Age nestling under the dark shadow of the mountain. (c.f. Picture above)  Water from this lake is now pumped to a dam on top of the mountain from where it is released to flow back down to the lake turning turbines that generate electricity. It is a good example  of the human capacity to turn a dark and forbidding place into a source of light.

When the summit of the mountain is reached the effort to get there is well worthwhile.  There is a magnificent view all around which has a transforming effect on the soul and spirit in a tired body  It would be easy to sit in the house today thinking about the meaning of sacrifice and transfiguration. It is  very different to feel it through the senses and emotion of a real experience.  Coming down from the mountain there is a sense of elation and achievement and connection with the greater spirit of life.  It is a feeling of being beloved and privileged to walk through the wonders of the created world.  It is true to say that the gates of heaven are everywhere if we are present to the reality of the here and now.  God is here and now as well as in the great unknown.

What is my experience of transformation/transfiguration?

Do I believe that I am beloved as I am on this earth?

Responsorial Psalm for the Week – Ps.116   I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.