Do we revel in the commonality of all humanities hunger for interaction with God?
Old Testament Reading: Exodus 24
For Sunday, Mar. 6 , 2011: Year A – Transfiguration
The top of the sacred mountain is covered in clouds, fire burns and around it are erected twelve stone monuments, one for each − each of the ancient Greek gods that is.
No, this is not a description of Sinai, this is Olympus, where Prometheus ventured to steal fire from Zeus and bring it down the mountain to the mortals, so they might have life.
Sacred, Not Rare
Sacred mountains, while sacred, are not rare. Since about 3000 B.C.E. the emperors of China have made a pilgrimage to Tai Shin, in Eastern China, Shandong Province, to be blessed and receive the wisdom to lead their people. Tai Shin is one of five Taoist sacred mountains, in China.
There are also four Buddhist sacred mountains there. Muhammad was transfigured on Mount Hira. Mount Vesuvius, the Himalayas, and the Black Hills in South Dakota, all are considered, in some way, the home of the gods (or god).
How is this different?
So Moses goes up a mountain that is covered in clouds, crested with fire, to meet God and receive from the deity the words by which his people might live.
How is this different from all the other peoples and their gods that have met on mountaintops?
Our God does eventually come down from the mountain, and after quite a bit of instructions on how it is to be made agrees to live in a tent. But there are many stories of gods coming down off the mountain to move among the mortals.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus ascends two mountains, one to bring the words that we may live by and one on which he is transfigured. It seems that mountain meetings were important to Matthew. Was he trying to trump other mountain top meetings, or allude to them?
Are we to be bashful?
Are we to be bashful about the commonness of these occurrences or is there something definitively different about the ones in our Holy Book? Religious traditions are built on top of each other; perhaps similarity does not threaten truth, but thickens it.
The Hardest Question
Going to the mountaintop to meet with God and receive a revelation is demonstrably not unique. Perhaps what our God does after the meeting is. Do we revel in the communality of all humanities hunger for interaction with God or do we seek to ferret out what is different about our God’s mountain top meetings?