Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Climbing Stone Mountain

Father said, "The word for the day is mountain."

It's in the Old Testament reading from the Book of Isaiah. It's in today's Gospel Reading from the Book of Matthew.

And it's in the Mass. We ascend the Mountain of the Lord when we go to Mass, when we hear the Word, and when we receive that Word. Finest wheat. A banquet table. Finest wine.

Have you ever climbed a mountain? It's been awhile, but I have done it. Stone Mountain, Georgia. The experience is very much like the description in Sacred Scripture. You get on your climbing shoes. You approach the mountain full of energy. And when you are about there, when you can see the top, you suddenly feel exhausted.

It was in this moment that I looked at my cousin Nancy. Her face was crazy red. She looked beat. Absolutely beat. "Do I look as red in the face as you look?" I asked her.

Someone took our picture right about then. And yes, I was as red in the face as Nancy.

We turned back to the mountain and gave one another a pep talk. "We've come this far."

"That's true."

"I think we can do it."

"I'm game if you are."

When we stood on the top of Stone Mountain, the wind came in great, mighty waves. It cooled our faces. Changed them back to their proper colors. Restored our bodies, like some kind of medicine.

And we stood on that rock. That mountain of granite. And we quietly viewed the beautiful Georgia landscape.

In today's Gospel Reading, Jesus accompanies the crowds to the top of a mountain. In pity, he works a great miracle. He feeds thousands with just a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

The people are seated around him. They'd followed him for three days. They'd climbed the mountain with him. They were probably looking quite pitiful about then.

He gave them the Word - Preaching. Teaching. Feeding their hearts and minds.

And then, he gives them sustenance for the journey. Like the Liturgy of the Word which is followed by the Liturgy of the Eucharist...

Today, I received the Bread of Life. I held the Lord Jesus Christ in my hand. So small. So rich.

I received the Blood that saves. I held the Cup of Our Lord and raised it to my lips. Sweet. Finest wine.

Today, I stood on the Mountain of the Lord. And he had pity on me, too. Out of love and pity for this weak, frail form, He gave all that He has to give.

He gave Himself.

And the Wind of the Holy Spirit washed over me as I looked out on the vista from that Mountain. I turned to make my way back down the hillside. And I am doing what every climber does. I'm telling you about the climb.

You've come this far.

I think you can make it to the top.

I'm game if you are.

Okay, let's climb together.

I'll meet you on the Mountain tomorrow morning! On the Mountain where stone gives way to His Flesh. And we are changed.

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

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