My retired husband has our television turned on a good part of any day he is not busy with an around-the-house project, so I hear a lot of commentary about the news. Climate change is often in the headlines. That got me thinking about instances in the Bible when someone comes to a high place and decides to climb it.
Bear with me. I have read that Jesus would go to a secluded place, away from the crowds, and pray to his Father. For example, check with Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, and Luke 6:12. Jesus wanted alone time, chose a mountain—probably not really a big one—and decided to climb it. Jesus knew what was important, his communion with God the Father, and rose to an occasion to pray in solitude.
Remember the story of vertically challenged Zacchaeus? He sought out a tree to give him some height and climbed it so he could see Jesus. His assent in the encounter that followed was life-changing and life-saving! (Luke 19:1-10).
In northern Israel on the Korazim Plateau is what is now called the Mount of the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:1-2 reads,
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them….
The disciples came to the mountain and climbed it, as Jesus had, to hear him proclaim nine beautiful Beatitudes (verses 3-12) which gave them great hope and encouragement.
I have read that the site of Jesus’ Ascension was a mountain or hill in Bethany. After being with them for 40 days, Jesus led his disciples to the Mount of Olives, blessed them, lifted up his holy hands, and ascended into heaven (Luke 24). Jesus’ climb up that mountain led to his going back to his Father. Soon the Holy Spirit would come on Pentecost and provide the infant Church with unity, spiritual gifts and fruits, and a new zeal for the Kingdom of God.
There are lessons to be considered. If we need space and solitude to come closer to God, perhaps we should climb a little hill somewhere with a Bible or journal or spiritual reading material. Personally, I would climb the staircase to my bedroom and pray for a little while.
If we are swamped with too many things to do or too many people to please, for a break, stop and look for a way to see Jesus better. Perhaps attending an extra weekday Mass or visiting a reservation chapel would help you climb closer to Jesus. You might have to climb some church steps, but it will be worth it!
Review the Beatitudes, maybe one a day for nine days. Let your heart and mind climb to the height of holy aspiration and set little self-improvement goals.
Finally, pray to the Holy Spirit for fresh inspiration. Thank God for sending us his Spirit. We might ascend to new heights of insight and loving generosity. So, if a mountain of such opportunity presents, itself CLIMB IT!
Photo by Suraj Kardile on Unsplash (detail)
The Scripture passage is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.