Lent Day 15 – From Mountain to Mission

by Bishop Robert Barron

We’ve mentioned before how Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, but there is more to their appearance at the Transfiguration than just a symbolic representation or shorthand for the Jewish Scriptures. They give us additional insights into the nature of prayer.

Recall that the text says, “Behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah…” When you pray, you step out of the ordinary world of space and time and enter into the properly eternal realm of God. This means that you can come into contact with the past and the future. You establish contact with what the Church calls “the communion of saints,” all those friends of God over the centuries. We speak of invoking the saints, speaking with them, seeking their help and intercession. This is not just pious talk. It is grounded in this metaphysics of eternity.

But what precisely are Jesus, Moses, and Elijah talking about? The answer is “…his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). We notice first of all the thematic connection between the Exodus that Moses led—a journey from slavery to freedom—and the exodus that Jesus would accomplish on the cross, a journey from sin and death to resurrection.

In both cases, it is a great work of liberation and life-giving love. This is key: the fruit of prayer in the Biblical tradition is action on behalf of the world. We are, essentially, a mission religion. Even the highest moments of mystical union are meant to conduce to doing God’s work in the world, to becoming a conduit of the divine grace. This is why Peter’s line is so important: “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Luke 9:33).

As Luke points out immediately, “But he did not know what he was saying.” The point of prayer is not to stay on the mountain. It is not to cling to mystical experience, however wonderful. It is to become radiant with the divine light so as to share it with the world. And this is why the voice from the cloud, once it identified Jesus, specified, “Listen to him.”


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  • concerned citizen

    We were talking about St. Josemaria Escriva in the comments section when we discussed the Meaning of Transfiguration the other day and today we are talking about Mountain to Mission. It may be interesting to know St. Escriva learned about God’s mission for him after spending hours every day praying at the Blessed Sacrament.

    He repeatedly prayed: “Domine, ut sit!, Domine, ut videam!, like the poor fellow in the Gospel, who shouted out because God can do everything. Lord, that I may see! Lord, that it may come to be!”

    And filled with confidence in our heavenly Mother, he also repeatedly prayed:

    Domina, ut sit!, Domina, ut videam! Lady, that it may be!

    Finally, Escriva discerned God wanted him to become a priest.

    It is true. If you are not sure of what God’s mission for you is, spend time with Him at the Blessed Sacrament (talking and listening) and surely one day you will be able to discern if not hear His whisperings to your heart.

  • ber

    Good morning my thought this morning do not lie with the prophets but this relationship Jesus and the father who appears at different times afferimg that Jesus is is son after all did Jesus not accend the mountain to make that connection the father was the if I can say this right the conduit of grace to the whole party we explore many aspects of of prayer but how did Jesus and the father have a relationship the prayer to do the father’s will soured him on yet even this son is not privy to when the end would be Jesus retired to pray To WHo only his father he sought him out in quite places even for him the father plays an important part after all he is the creater of all life Jesus knew the father before he passed trough the gate of suffering his prayer or relationship with the father gave him the strength and impetus to go that extra mile and so we learn trough prayer and relationship we too can climb the mountain make the connection and be transformed blessed day to all

  • Anton D

    When our life is built on prayer / encounter with God, our life will radiate love.

    Jesus says :
    – ‘A city(life) built on a hill / mountain(prayer) cannot be hidden.’
    – ‘No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl.’

    ‘The point of prayer is not to stay on the mountain. It is not to cling to mystical experience, however wonderful. It is to become radiant with the divine light so as to share it with the world.’

  • concerned citizen

    It is also true that it is not enough that we pray at the Blessed Sacrament, but that one should share the love we receive from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and give that same love to our neighbors. Blessed Mother Teresa says she sees Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with the eyes of faith and then sees Jesus in the poorest of the poor, the dying, the unwanted and the despicable. The love she receives from Jesus in the Adoration and the Mass, she now shares with and gives the same love to the suffering and the sick. And if I may add, the suffering and the sick likewise sees the love of Jesus in Mother Teresa.

  • kayeloney@cox.net

    Heaven is still speaking to us, through the mystic’s if you have not read Anna Cathrine Emmerich writing’s or City of God mystical writing’s than you need to read them. It was through these writing I realized Heaven is still speaking to us, and anything is possible with God. You have to read and you need prayer with mediation. You can reach Jesus and the Heavenly realm by giving your Human Will back to Jesus and asking Mother Mary for Jesus Divine Will to pray in unity with Him for all Souls past, present and future. The writing of Luisa Piccaretta on the Divine Will is very enlightening on Prayer, the 24 Hours of the Passion is a must read during Lent. Remember we are connected to each other in a mystical way so we have to pray for each other.

  • Ellen Manfredi Mongan

    Be still and know that He is God. Listen and obey. Then go and tell the world. If we be silent, the very rocks will cry out His praises.

  • Patrick Cassidy

    Wow, I never really thought of Moses and Elijah as being saints before. It really puts a different perspective on the aspect of prayer and the communion of saints.

    Peter saying the comment about making the tent for them, isn’t the first time that he was thinking only in the earthly matter. When Jesus first mentioned the Passion, Peter told our Lord that he won’t let anybody hurt Him. Jesus responded, “Get behind me, Satan.”

    It is important for us to make that special time and place for prayer, otherwise we will walk around worrying about earthly things, and will disregard the heavenly.

    • Debra Johnson

      Indeed! Remember, in the Creed, we say “He descended to the dead”. All those souls that heard the word of God and lived it prior to Christ were summoned by Him after His death from “the dead” to eternal life with Him in Heaven. From Matthew 27 “…the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many”. Blessed Catherine Anne Emmerich gives an interesting account of this in her “Dolorous Passion of Our Lord”.

  • ber

    Where does prayer begin but the realisation of the love of Jesus as he brings us to union with him encounter. United with him every action has a meaning has a purpose no too people has the same prayer life because we have free will and blessed with different graces but it is to the same person there we have unity we have unity in prayer different ways the prayers of the church the mass and when we consciencey unite with purpose we use the saints to give us clues how to go about it but we have to find the ways that will enhance that prayer experience for ourselves with the grace of the holy spirit prayer leads you somewhere but encounter is the fruit I would dearley love to spend the hours in prayer that people talk about but alas it has escaped me there go I a sinner from I was born but hopefully destined for great hights ( heaven ) love reading your reply guys would love to continue ?? after lent

  • jesspinosa

    Our Blessed Mother, in Cana, told us, “Do what He tells you to do.” Now, God the Father asks us, “Listen to Him.” As obedient children of such a loving God, how could we not say Yes? Lately, I have been inundated with large medical bills and doctors’ appointments, and for a brief moment, I felt overwhelmed. But then, in my mind during prayer, God told me not to worry because I am not in charge, He is. So what better way to respond than say, Yes, Lord.

    • ber

      I was out walking and thinking as you do and those very thoughts came to mind as you say Mary and the father both in different words said the same thing listen to him no beating around the bush there as fr Larry would say (do it )

  • Dude_Abides

    Kudos Bshp Barron for this thought provoking morning meditation.
    The second paragraph is “heavy’ into the question “Why do we pray?”
    Bshp Barron: “When you pray, you step out of the ordinary world of space and time and enter into the properly eternal realm of God…. It is grounded in this metaphysics of eternity.”
    God lives outside of the construct, in which we live in, called ‘time’. The past, the present and the future events are the NOW to God; eternally. The definition of eternity is a state to which time has no application; timelessness.
    We are grounded in time. God is not.
    So why do we pray? Is it to invoke God to have a change of his will for one’s particular petition? If a family member has a severe life threatening illness in which we are praying for their recovery, are we praying into events that are yet to be defined, or are we praying into events that are decided well before we have prayed and well before the illness has even settled inside our beloved one?
    Does prayer have a certain otherness about it that allows a change/movement of history? And what about ‘free will’ where does it come into play? For example in Scripture when Abraham pleads to God for Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared from the fires of heaven. His prayer seems to indicate an openness on our Lord’s part to receive his anguished request.
    These are all questions worth contemplating.
    Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, Paul says to pray without stopping. James declared that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
    C. S. Lewis when discussing God, space and time, put on his time-traveler’s hat. He stated: “My free act [of prayer] contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or ‘before all world’; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series.” Fascinating, his use of the term ‘cosmic shape’ and also the word ‘conduce’ that Bsh Barron uses in the following sentence: “Even the highest moments of mystical union are meant to conduce to doing God’s work in the world, to becoming a conduit of the divine grace.”
    Ultimately we are meant to be moved through prayer to do God’s work here on earth, it allows us to see into the future the glory that awaits us.
    And when we come to our end here, time will be no more, killed by eternity, it dies a mortal’s death.

    • ber

      A lot to think about here dude you put it so well thanks bernie

      • Dude_Abides

        You are welcome Bernie. Yes there is much to consider.

    • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell


      Well said especially that God exists in the eternal present.
      Think about this……! People ask me all the time, “Why did you pray for the dead”? “After all they are dead (mortal existence) and their eternal fate is sealed and cannot be changed”! From a mortal’s perspective, this statement would be true.
      Now, since everything with God “is now” and existing outside of time, there is no past or future. To us, there is.
      Let us say your child has a terminal illness and they are healed by God via a doctor or prayers or both.
      Did God “change the order of events right then?

      Your prayers, the doctors and even God’s miraculous healing was known by God before creation. He knew exactly what were the chain if events leading up to and including your prayer for the Mercy of the Lord upon your child, but you didn’t and here is where faith comes to play. You prayed!!!
      God knew you would, He knew who your child’s life or death would affect and how it would affect them.

      Simply put, the prays you say today affect the events tomorrow.

      Knowing this, what would have happened if you didn’t pray in faith that dispite how things appear to us now we trusted God and God knew this before time and the world existed.

      So now many of you are more confused ? so just remember prayer moves mountains not limited by space or time. Sometimes if prayer doesn’t seem to come just ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
      St. Thomas Aquinas said, “We can know about God but we cannot know God”

      Before anyone says to me , your wrong”I know God in my heart”,remember Thomas is speaking about understanding the nature of God. Only God knows Himself.

      Pray, pray, pray! and as you do, take the time to hear what God says to you!

      Bishop Fulton J. Sheen use to say, “.when you pray…. don’t do all the talking. Let Our Lord talk to you!


      The Prayer Warrior

      • concerned citizen

        Amen to that! I think you explained it better than me.

        • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell


          You did a beautiful job of explaining this. A blessing indeed.

          I welcome varied takes on a subject. This is what the apostles, Mark, Matthew, and Luke did. They all presented Jesus teachings but, theitr manner of presentation, was a bit different but the Truths Jesus reminded constant.

          Explanation –
          Mark preached out to the Gentiles in a manner fitting to there understanding. Like wise, Matthew appealed to the to the Jewish ckmmunity who could relate to the Messiah prophetized in the Old Testament and Luke catered to the pagans.

          What happened here is the Holy Spirit putting a different perspective on the same subject catering to the different perceptions or education of the average person!

          So there are manta ways to pfesent a subject, etc so long as the truth is not compramized.



      • Dude_Abides

        Yes I agree Michael Lee. It is sorta the way I view it at this point in TIME. I leave the door open for others like yourself to vector in with their take on it.
        Pax vobiscum, Prayer Warrior

        • http://www.irishmike.org/ Michael Lee Cornwell

          ET cum spiritu tuo, Dude!

    • concerned citizen

      Dude, those questions also entered my mind. But these are the same questions regarding predestination. That if God knows where we are going, does it matter now whatever else we do? But as you said, past, present and future is all the same to God. There is no past, present and future with Him. He is present at all times and at the same time. So even if He knows what we are to do, it is still us who does it. It is still us who decides. It does not remove our free will.

      Now going to the question on prayers. Will prayers still work since God knows already what will happen? My answer is: prayers are part of what God knows. That if you prayed, and your prayers were answered, it is because you prayed. And if nothing happened, because you did not pray, it is because you did not pray. So don’t tell yourself, I will not pray because God knows already. This is precisely because you did not pray, that that event happened or did not happen.

      I hope I was able to explain myself well.

      • Dude_Abides

        Thank you CC. Beautiful, see my reply to Michael Lee (The Prayer Warrior) above. I learn from everyone’s comments on these meditations.
        Pax vobiscum, CC

  • Waita Ward

    Just signed up to this site. Bishop Barron’s reflections are insightful, beautiful and thought provoking. The comments are lessons to be learned and digested and pondered upon. I am so thankful for this website. God bless you all!

  • Jackie

    When we enter the “cloud of unknowing” with all our doubts, fears and hopes, we enter our sacred place where only God dwells. Listening closely for what will be revealed. It’s moving, challenging and personal but not private. “Go out and be my voice, says God.” Powerful, challenging and hopeful..

  • Joseph T. Garcia

    ” Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints “

  • Annie Karto

    Beautiful insights! After mass and adoration I feel “transfigured” people actually notice the light of Christ radiating from our faces! But then as Fr Barron so beautifully points out, our mission begins My spiritual director who went home to the Lord in 2000 used to say after Mass, Annie, where are you taking Jesus today?
    Annie Karto

  • Siggy

    Dear Bishop….please pray for me

    • Elizabeth

      If you wish Siggy, I can place you on our church’s intercessory prayer list.

  • Corine Richenelle

    The Angels and Saints play an important role in our prayer life. They help us to be awaken and doing like a “knocking” and await for our response to speak to our Lord who is always waiting for us with the arms opened wide. My Guardian Angel always keep me awarke and full of joy and this JOY and Peace is completed while worshipping and Praising our Lord Jesus.

  • mtt

    Thank you, Bishop. We tend to STOP at the concrete realities of our situations in lieu of going beyond them; we see them as ends in themselves instead of a MEANS to the End. As I watch others with physical ailments, sicknesses, addictions, I see these things as temporary “veils” that will be removed when we share the fullness of life with the Trinity. We have to have faith to believe that God has a purpose for all things and remember that these things lead to an End.

  • Tina Smith

    Communion of Saints. Father Baron, thank you… You have brought to life and meaning a relationship with God’s friends and I now have a brighter comprehension of what it means to be. One with the Father.

  • mtt

    Not sure why my response wasn’t recorded the first time but here goes another try!
    Thanks so much, Bishop. When I think about Moses, I always think about the “veil” that covered his face after his encounter with God (prayer). Our lives are covered with “veils” which will be removed when we encounter the Beatific Vision. All those things which were problematic or we didn’t understand or were worrisome, our poor health, etc., these “veils” now lead us to an End, and are not ends in themselves; they are like conveyor belts carrying us towards the purpose for which God allowed them in our lives but in the end lead us back to Him. We have to believe that; we have to believe that our faith is trying to teach us something in this or that circumstance and that if we wait long enough, we will come to experience Him in our lives.

  • lolabean

    I love these reflections and am so grateful for Bishop Barron’s work. The Church needs servants such as him. I heard a nun speaking on Relevant Radio about the Transfiguration reading and she said something similar to all of what is said here, but she added something which hit home for me. The divine mystical experience on the mountain was surely incredible for the apostles, and Jesus allowed them to share in it for several reasons: to reveal His Divinity, to increase their faith, to hear His Father’s command to “listen.” But they couldn’t stay there on the mountain. They had to come down, back to ground level, back to the valleys of earth… they had to remember and use that experience to fulfill their mission. We may not have such mystical moments as these apostles did. But then again, few of us have the missions they were given. We have wonderful moments in prayer, we feel blessed and joyful at the Eucharist, we have many mini mountaintop moments. But we always have to come back down from the mountain. We, too, have missions to fulfill. It may be as simple as having patience with the seemingly mundane things we need to do everyday, but it’s how we do them. Are we doing them with love? How we live is what the rest of the world sees. Our missions are to be Christ when we’re in the valleys.

  • Krista

    It comforts me to know that Jesus entrusted leading the Church here on earth to Peter. I, like Peter in this Gospel, also many times ‘don’t know what I’m saying’…so there’s hope for me yet!

  • Becky

    The voice of God ….listen to him!
    If in our prayer we do not take the time to ponder what Jesus is trying to tell us we cannot become what we were created to be.
    Awesome reflection by Bishop Barron to take us future into the sceen of this powerful time in Jesus ministry and what he was going to accomplish in his exodus. He opened heaven to take us from Sin to Eternal life.
    God Bless You All.

  • Penny

    I have been wondering and wondering what “But he did not know what he was saying” meant. Or why it was bad/wrong/not good for him to say such a thing.

  • http://findmeinflorida.wordpresscom Tampa Lady

    Before I go grocery shopping for tonight’s dinner I will write in here. Maybe Peter found out how to bring the mountain reality down to the rest of life. Thought: if we are still breathing during the reality of the or any mystical experience, then we know there is a reality of God being there as well. We are the ones who decide to do this. This makes prayer more real. I have kind of learned over the years, that choosing to love after any experience is our choice to hug God after the experience. This is real love.

  • Dayna Ellis

    Bishop Barron, this meditation makes so much sense. Thank you.

  • concerned citizen

    Another that struck me with what Bishop Barron said was: This means that you can come into contact with the past and the future. You establish contact with what the Church calls “the communion of saints,” all those friends of God over the centuries.

    Two points:
    1. We all know we come into contact with the past and this is our departed relatives and friends and the saints. How can we get in touch with the future? Is he referring to the time that it is us who has passed on to the eternal life and it is our future grandchildren who come into contact with us? Is this not amazing? That there would be people whom we still do not know who will be in touch with us in the future.

    2. Bishop Barron also mentions Peter, James and John were able to get into contact with Elijah and Moses who were talking to Jesus. This means that our departed brothers and sisters who are already in heaven can talk to Jesus and pray to Him for us. Even the poor souls in purgatory can talk to Him and pray for us since they are also members of the Communion of Saints. This refutes the line of thinking, that when we die, our souls also fall into sleep until Judgement Day comes. They do not. They will be wide awake and alive and will already enjoy eternal bliss in heaven or suffer in purgatory or hell.

  • Linda Dokey

    Speak Lord Your Servant Is Listening!!
    Amen Amen ♡

  • Sam

    Your reflections are so beautiful Bishop Barron. I can understand why Peter wants to stay on the mountain with the transfigured Lord. There are times when I pray and really take the time to “be” present to the transcendent that I don’t want to come off of the mountain. I want to stay there in that communion and not return to my tribulations or the people who annoy me and make life miserable, but they are the ones precisely who need me to return.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you Bishop Robert Barron for this particular reflection and thank you all for your prayerful commentaries. A form of praying the Psalms I am studying at this time is lectio divina.- meditating and contemplating the words of a particular Psalm. The song On Eagle’s Wings is an example of the musician taking a portion of Psalm 91 and writing his reflection.

  • rtclovesmac

    Prayer being the conduit to eternity
    to speak with Christ and the community of Saints in the here and now

    What joy.

  • Pennell

    I’m looking for a talk that Father Barron spoke about through Lighthouse Media. Father is mentioning about one’s mission in life and he also refers to the Prophet Jonah in his talk. Does any one know the title of this talk?