Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said.
While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Some years ago, I was chatting with a group of people immediately after we had all finished eight days of blessed silence and prayer together during an annual retreat. One person joked, “Well, back to the real world.” One of the retreat directors raised an eyebrow. “If this wasn’t the ‘the real world,’” she quipped, “then what on earth was the point of this week?”
Mountaintop experiences, whether the disciples seeing Jesus in his glory or us experiencing moments of particular clarity in prayer, are the exception, not the rule. And because they are the exception, our temptation is to dismiss these experiences as “less real,” to reduce them to something we can stuff in a proverbial tent.
Maybe today’s invitation is to stretch our imagination. Our moments of clarity and closeness to God aren’t un-real at all; sometimes, they might be more real than the “real world.”
—Fr. Matt Spotts, SJ, is a recently ordained priest of the Midwest Jesuits serving as an associate pastor at Ss. Joseph-St. Francis Xavier parish in Wilmette, IL as well as doing pastoral ministry at Loyola Academy in Wilmette. A reflection on his experience of ministering to those on death row can be found here.
Lord Jesus, you revealed yourself to the disciples on the mountaintop. Help us to savor our own moments of clarity and to joyfully carry those moments with us when we come down the mountain and out into the world.
—Fr. Matt Spotts, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!