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Climbing That Mountain

First Reading: Hebrews 8:6-13

Brothers and sisters:
Now our high priest has obtained so much more excellent a ministry
as he is mediator of a better covenant,
enacted on better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless,
no place would have been sought for a second one.
But he finds fault with them and says:
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of
Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
the day I took them by the hand to lead
them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they did not stand by my covenant
and I ignored them, says the Lord.
But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds
and I will write them upon their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen and kin, saying,
“Know the Lord,”
for all shall know me, from least to greatest.
For I will forgive their evildoing
and remember their sins no more.

When he speaks of a “new” covenant,
he declares the first one obsolete.
And what has become obsolete
and has grown old is close to disappearing.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85:8 AND 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (11a) Kindness and truth shall meet.
Show us, O LORD, your mercy,
and grant us your salvation.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Kindness and truth shall meet.

Gospel: Mark 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee,
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges,
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus;
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

NAB

At some point I knew the Apostles were commissioned from the mountaintop, but I never gave much thought to how they all got up there. I’m in pretty good shape, but I really don’t know if I could climb a mountain on demand. Don’t those kind of hikes take serious training? I would probably show up at the summit heaving and wheezing, with sore legs and my bad ankle throbbing. And I’m saying this as someone who ran her fourth half-marathon not too long ago and hauls herself to work out at least a few times a week.

Today’s Gospel doesn’t say that Jesus called the Apostles to a hillside or a beach—no, He summons them up to a mountaintop. That’s some real commitment and work right away, just to get sent out to do the real work of driving out demons and preaching. Climbing the mountain—that was just the preliminary prep work.

Sometimes I feel like a lot of my work right now is climbing that mountain. I’m not out there on commission quite yet, I think. Right now, I just need to worry about hauling my sorry self up a mountainside and show up for my assignment from Jesus. God only knows what that ultimate assignment is, and I mean that quite literally.

Climbing the mountain isn’t the end of the journey, but it’s an important part of the work. It’s harrowing and long, but I’m not on that path alone. The rest of us on the path to total discipleship are there, too. We might not be there yet, but Jesus is summoning us to Him. He’s waiting at the top of the mountain, and we are the ones He is calling to join Him. Why? He wants us to be with Him, and He wants to send us out to do His work. First, though, we need to heed His call up the mountain.

Is Jesus calling you up the mountain? Are you already a disciple on commission? How can you support those on this journey with you?

Brigid Hogan is a midwestern graduate student who finds peace in lakes, the Mass, and fiction when she isn’t ensconced in schoolwork. Find out more about her here.

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