Gn 12:1-4a Mt 17:1-9
Abram went as the Lord directed him Lord, it is good that we are
here. If you wish I will build
three tents, one for you, one
for Moses and one for Elijah."
Now that you have come home from celebrating the Sacred Eucharistic banquet and have decided that there are in fact other things to do than to watch football on Sunday afternoon, here you are reading Parishworld.net. We knew that you would be here. We also knew that there might be a challenge waiting for you here. This might be a challenge. As regular church goers you have no doubt noticed that the first and third readings from the Sacred Scripture every Sunday have a close relationship. The first reading from the Old Testament (The Hebrew Scriptures) is usually chosen to paint a sketch that gives us a hint of the teachings of Jesus. Most of the stories are well known to us.
Like last week, we heard the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve first and then we enjoyed hearing about the temptation of Jesus by Satan. Most of us sit there in disappointment over Adam and Eve and applaud the smash-mouth repartees of Jesus that make Satan disappear in
disgust. That is an easy one. This one is a little more subtle. Whatever we hear this weekend, here is an idea that I have about the mind of the Church in putting these two readings side by side.
Look at the comparison that I have been inspired to create at the header of this piece. Abram (Before God called him Abraham) gets called from God, a God whom he has never seen, gets up and goes, no questions asked. Peter, who has been following and learning from Jesus for some time now after abandoning his nets and boats, wants to stay put. He doesn't get the hint. In
the presence of Moses and Elijah, two of the hardest working Patriarchs / Prophets that God ever had, he prefers to hang around and enjoy the heavenly benefit of being close to these luminaries of Yaweh. Does he lose sight of the fact that he is with the Son of God? He just saw Him in His Eternal splendor and instead of seeing the message come to life, he sees his own
good. So should we be disappointed? Not one bit. It's a temptation that we all have.
Look at the story of Moses. Yaweh sure had a hard sell getting Moses to take the reins and get the Chosen People out of the slavery of Egypt. God sure had to show Moses a lot before He could get him to do the job. It got so bad between God and Moses that Moses had to camp on a rock and watch his people march into the Promised Land without him. Peter had a similar
experience. At the very beginning of the Church, it was James who was the head of the church of Jerusalem. Peter went down from Jerusalem to the coastal area of Caesarea and had a very fruitful ministry to the Romans, but not to his own people, the
Abraham is an interesting Patriarch. He comes into our lives before Moses. He is the father of God's people. He has no precursors who could serve as examples of how to believe in God. He is the gifted one who teaches us how to get up and to go even if we do not know the way. It is important for us to compare Peter, James and John before Elijah and Moses. The three disciples had not been at the River Jordan when the Father proclaimed Jesus as His beloved Son. They knew Jesus beause they had been introduced by John and when they were invited by Jesus, they followed. Like Abraham and so many other Patriarchs and Prophets, they left all that they had and dedicated themselves to God. Today, they got the Jordan river treatment all over again in a special way. This is their Confirmation. This is the moment when Jesus tells them to keep the experience to themselves. He knows that they are going to have to nurture this moment in their hearts. This is the moment when, like Abraham they had to meditate on the reality that they had bought into and had to decide that wherever the road led, that's where they had to go.
I'll bet that Abraham never told Sarah what happened on Mount Moriah. No way. That was
between him, Isaac and Yaweh. They was his reserve for the rest of his life and the rest of the challenges that lay in wait for him for the rest of his life. Jesus knew that they could not stay there. Mount Tabor is 100 miles north of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where they had to go,
sooner or later. Like Abraham who had to climb the mountain with his son Isaac, Peter and he colleagues had to climb the mountain to Jerusalem with the one who was to be sacrificed there. On the way up He would carry the wood upon which He would lay as the sacrifice. Unlike Abraham, Peter, James and John and the rest would not find an entangled ram to save their
Master. He is the Ram and Peter and the rest of us are His children, His people, His progeny and we, with Him are the "sons in whom I am well pleased."
So, fellow pilgrims, we too are not allowed to sit before the tabernacle (tent) and enjoy Jesus in the pitty-pat of our pious hearts. He has work to do, and we are those who have to help Him do it. We all have God-given talents and we have to make them work. We do not have the luxury of building a tent on whatever Mount Tabor we choose and expect that the voice from
heaven is going to lift us up to our eternal reward. Nope. At the very least, we have to go out and try to catch fish. That's the deal. If Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth and Mary can bear children in miraculous circumstances, we can catch a fish or two. If Abraham, Moses, Isaac and Jacob can keep a civilization together under God without any more training than to say, "yes", who
are we to renege on the invitation?
I think that this is the lesson that the Church is putting before us with the juxtaposition of these two stories. I could be wrong, but I'm confident that I am close enough. If you think I'm off base here, make a quick move to first and if you pick me off, I'll ask God to shorten your purgatory by a couple of days. But if you don't get me, be happy you tried and keep smiling even through