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Sunday, March 1, 2015

2-1-15 Mountains and Trials

Audio Here (12:15pm Mass)
 Today we hear about a couple different journeys up mountains. Perhaps some of you have had a "mountain top experience," whether actually or figuratively. When some of my relatives climbed a mountain in Colorado a few summers ago, it snowed and hailed on them as they got near the top. Besides almost freezing, they were very afraid of lightning as well. Luckily everything passed by and they finished the ascent, and they tell me it was totally worth the effort. The view and the whole experience were an amazing reward that they shared together. This really proves the old phrase: "no pain, no gain."
There's no easy way up a mountain! It takes a lot out of us, even the strongest! This is true physically and spiritually. In order to get close to God in this life, it can be really tough at times. Sometimes life throws curve balls at us and we can really feel the sting. We finite human beings can't understand why all the time because we have trouble seeing the big picture. Often we are stuck down in the details and don't get high enough to see the view from God's angle.
That is exactly what Abraham is going through today. For us, we can see the symbolic connection to Christ's Passion that is foreshadowed in the story. For example,
[:: = foreshadows]
Beloved Son, Isaac :: Son of God
Wood for sacrifice :: Cross
Mt. Moriah :: Temple mount and mount Calvary
Ram among thorns :: Lamb of God crowned with thorns

That's not too difficult for us to see. But for Abraham, that is impossible to see. He is centuries before Christ's birth, and so has no idea what God is doing. In Abraham's experience, God promised to give him his own promised land and make his descendants numerous as the stars or the sand on the seashore. His only son, who God miraculously gave him and his wife despite their old age, is now demanded back in sacrifice. Perhaps Abraham was tempted to think that the Lord is like all those other false-gods of the ancient world who demanded human sacrifice and didn't care about us or our futures, nor His promises. But we know that he, as Saint Paul says, reasoned that God could even bring someone back from the dead (as he did figuratively already in the gift of this child). Whatever he "felt" or "thought," Abraham later realized that God was showing two things: (1) He is not like other false-gods and despises human sacrifice; and (2) He was asking Abraham to choose God Himself over and above the "good things" Abraham receives from Him. God, like all of us, wants to be loved for Himself, and not for what He does. And we see today a third use: God foreshadows His own sacrifice, fulfilling Abraham's words to Isaac's question: "God Himself will provide the sacrifice."
The questions in our life about why things happen are answered, but in a mysterious way. God chooses, just like with Abraham, to explain one story with another story, The Cross.
Mountains :: transfiguration. Jesus shows his disciples the future so they can get through the Cross. Well, that's the same for us. God reveals Himself to us on mountains, through the pain of our trials in life, when we can't make sense of it and need to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes he does it ahead of time. Sometimes he only reveals what it was all about afterwards.

Abraham went through all that effort and pain to obey the Lord and stay close to Him. The Lord repaid him by revealing Himself in a deeper way. Sometimes in our lives we will have to follow the Lord where we don't understand but have to rely on faith alone to guide us. But through these times, we will eventually be blessed with the ability to see things differently, from a higher vision. God will share a glimpse of Himself to us and we will know Him more deeply as our loving God, who will do anything to save us, even giving up His Only-Begotten Son.

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