25 February 2009

Rejoicing on the mountain top

Patrick Comerford

Isaiah 58: 1-12; Psalm 58: 1-8; II Corinthians 5: 20b-6: 10; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21

May I speak to you in the name of + the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Gathered here in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, I am struck by how often in the Bible encounters with God take place on a mountain top: Mount Sinai, Mount Zion, the Mount of Olives, Calvary and the Ascension from the mount called Olivet.

On Sunday, in our Gospel reading, we heard the story of the Transfiguration, where Christ is presented on a high mountain as the Father’s beloved Son, and placed on either side of him are Moses and Elijah – for Christ is truly the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets, of all of God’s promises.

In the lectionary readings this week, we heard again and again of the encounter with God on Mount Sinai.

And in the Gospel reading this morning and repeated this afternoon, we meet Christ, the incarnate Son, as we listen to his Sermon on the Mount.

In Lent, we are preparing once again for Good Friday and for Easter. This season began not as a time of repentance, but as a time of preparation for the catechumens – those preparing for baptism at Easter, those preparing to die with Christ and to rise again with Christ.

For some of you, your time of preparation for ordination is almost over. That preparation was longer than forty days; right now, those two or three years may feel more like forty years. And now, for some of you, this is your last Lent in Braemor Park.

I hope you will always keep your ordination vows before you.

I hope too you will always keep your baptism vows before you.

These are sacred promises and pledges for you, for me, and for the whole Church.

May we always rejoice in the light of Christ.

May we always have faith in him as the beloved Son.

May we always have joy in his fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets, of all of God’s promises.

May we always be challenged by the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.

May we always rejoice that in our one, common Baptism we have died with Christ and have risen with him.

And so we turn to page 398 of the Book of Common Prayer for the renewal of our Baptismal Vows …

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This address was given at the closing Eucharist at the community retreat in the Orlagh Retreat Centre on Ash Wednesday, 25 February 2009.

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