From the Mountains to the Seashore
The gospels from Mass read like Jesus' vacation chronicles: Last Sunday he went to the mountains, and this week he is at the seashore.
On a very human level, the event of the Transfiguration, which we celebrated just four days ago, is first about Jesus seeking rest with his friends Peter, James, and John. They go to the mountains, a vacation spot, for sure. In their rest and recreation, Jesus is transfigured, and they come to love him more fully. Jesus' showing his transfigured self to his friends was an act of intimacy, for they saw and experienced the lovely complexity of their friend.
This Sunday Matthew will report that Jesus is back up the mountain, this time, by himself to pray. But Jesus makes his way to the shore and the sea to appear to Peter and save him from sinking in doubt, something we may experience a bit too easily. Jesus stretches out his hand, Peter grasps the saving hand of his friend, and they return safely to the boat, warmed by the care and trust they both just exchanged.
As we vacation this summer or recall our past vacations, perhaps we can identify moments where we fell more in love with those with whom we traveled. When we relax with others, they get to see different sides of us and can know us more fully. We can even fall more fully in love with God. St. Francis de Sales tells us that "we pray best before beauty" such as the vacation spots we choose.
In the remaining weeks of this summer, let us reflect on those times of fun, rest, and vacation when our lives were enriched because of the transformative power of grace that runs through our relationships. Whether on a mountain, at a beach, or a place of restorative peace, the experience may have been more than just a get-away. It was a chance to get closer to someone we loved, and maybe changed our lives.