I enjoy baseball and I enjoy going to Rockies games but I especially love it when, during the seventh inning stretch, they sing, “God Bless America.” That song/hymn always chokes me up when I try to sing along but what really gives me goose bumps is when they display the mountains on the big screen when we sing, from the mountains. I don’t need the picture since the mountains are there in the background, in all their majesty, but it moves me, nonetheless.
What is it about mountains that lifts our souls? I grew up in Seattle and am still awed at Mt. Rainier, on a clear sunny day, appearing so close to the city you could almost reach out and touch it. The jagged peaks of the Tetons point day and night to their Creator, challenging our notion of them as merely a natural phenomenon. Standing atop one of our fourteeners gives a vision of God’s magnificent handiwork that takes your breath away—literally—and driving through the Canadian Rockies is so inspiring you’d think you are near the gates of Paradise. Yes, God gave us an affinity to be close to Him on the mountain top and He takes us there, today, again with Peter, James and John.
Our first reading recalls Abraham’s journey up the mountain for the sacrifice of his only son, Isaac. It prefigures the Father’s ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus, on the mount of Calvary. Paul extols God’s magnificence in one of his more famous lines, If God is for us, who can be against us? He repeats a theme that is worth a daily reminder: God is in charge, with unequivocal Love. Even though He gave us dominion over all the earth and all its creatures, it all belongs to Him and all we can do is care for it as if we owned it but in a way that gives Praise and Glory to its true Creator. That’s part of the message of today’s Gospel.
Peter asks to build three tents for Jesus, Elijah and Moses but the words are barely out of his mouth when God covers them with His cloud of Glory and speaks words conveying obedience to His Son. Yes, Peter, confused by the vision and maybe a little terrified, wants to set up camp and remain there, but God has other plans.
He has plans for each of us, too. I may think I own my life but, like creation, it belongs to God. He gave it to me to live out in Praise and Glory of Him who is for us and greater than anything that might be against us. His words are for us, too: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”