SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Climbing the Mountain

Climbing the Mountain

“Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord…”
Isaiah 2:3

MountOfBeatitudesViewToCapernaum200704

“Moving on from there Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there.  Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.”
Matthew 15:29-30

Was Jesus being insensitive?  I mean, not only does He climb a mountain in order to teach, but He knows that many of the people following Him are blind, lame, and crippled.  It’s difficult enough to climb a mountain when you’re healthy, let alone when you’re crippled!  What was Jesus thinking?

The gospel scene which recounts Jesus feeding the four thousand is a profound lesson for us with regard to the call to holiness.  You see, Jesus could have remained on a level plain and not made the people follow him up the mountain; but Jesus wanted to teach them–and us–some very important lessons:

  1. We should never be content with remaining at the same level in the spiritual life.  Jesus is always inviting us to new heights of holiness.  This is why He ascends the mountain.  He desires to bring to a new level of holiness all those who feel unable to ascend the mountain because of their weaknesses and sin.  We may not be physically blind or crippled, but each of us has areas of spiritual blindness, each of us can be spiritually crippled at times.  Regardless of our faults, Jesus is always inviting us to go deeper (or higher!).
  2. It is only by following Jesus up the mountain that we are able to experience true healing.  It’s no coincidence that Jesus first had the people ascend the mountain and then he healed them.  Sometimes in our lives we need to allow the Lord to bring us through extreme spiritual discomfort (a mountain) so we can experience healing.  A perfect example is when we are dealing with an area of spiritual darkness that we have not yet relinquished: unforgiveness in our hearts; a sin that has gone unrepented; a character defect that we refuse to work on.  It is only when we bring this darkness into the light, when we experience the discomfort of being completely transparent and acknowledging our weakness, that we are able to experience God’s healing.  Ascending the mountain is uncomfortable, but it’s precisely in that discomfort that we experience Christ’s healing.

… Christ invites us to new heights of holiness.  Don’t run away from your discomfort; embrace it and ascend the mountain with the Lord.  Then, and only then, will you experience His healing.

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Art: View to Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee – seen from the Catholic church at the Mount of Beatitudes, gugganij, April 2007, own work, CCA-SA 3.0 unported, Wikimedia Commons.

Editor's Note: This, of course, reminds me of St. John of the Cross' famous work: “Ascent of Mount Carmel”! Here at SpiritualDirection.com, we congratulate Fr. Michael Najim for being selected to be a pastor in the diocese of Providence (Rhode Island), a position he will assume in July.  May the Lord continue the wonderful work He has begun in him!

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About Fr. Michael Najim

Fr. Michael Najim is a priest of the Diocese of Providence. He is Pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly, Rhode Island and has been the Director of Spiritual Formation at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Chaplain of LaSalle Academy, a coed Catholic high school in Providence, RI. He is the author of Radical Surrender: Letters to Seminarians, published by the Institute for Priestly Formation. He also blogs at Fr. Michael Najim's Blog.

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