Head for the boondocks! [The word “boondocks” comes from bundok, which is the word for “mountain” in the Tagalog language of the northern Philippines. U.S. military personnel brought it back from the Philippines after World War II.]
Benedictine monasteries often sit atop mountains or hills. Mine does. St. Benedict himself was first a hermit in the mountains of Subiaco, and then headed a monastery there. He eventually moved to Mount Cassino to found the monastery where he wrote his regulations for monks and lived out the latter years of his life.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, has called attention to mountains as the settings for many of the great events in the life of Jesus.
I looked up those mountains in the Gospels. The Gospels do not mention that Jerusalem sits on Mount Zion and Mount Moria (or the Eastern Hill). Nonetheless, in addition to all the mountains I cite below, Jerusalem was the summit of the earthly service of Jesus.
MOUNTAIN OF TEMPTATION
Again, the devil took him to a very high MOUNTAIN, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.
SERMON ON THE MOUNT
MOUNTAIN OF PRAYER AND SOLITUDE
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the MOUNTAIN by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
MOUNTAIN OF HEALING, COMPASSION, AND MULTIPLICATION OF FOOD
And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the MOUNTAIN, and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
MOUNTAIN OF PRAYER AND TRANSFIGURATION
He took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the MOUNTAIN to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”— not knowing what he said. As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
MOUNTAIN OF PRAYER AND APOSTOLIC COMMISSION
In these days he went out to the MOUNTAIN to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
THE MOUNTAIN OF SAMARIA: JESUS CONVERTS THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL
MOUNT OF OLIVES: BEGINNING OF HIS TRIUMPHANT ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the MOUNT OF OLIVES, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If any one says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon.
MOUNT OF OLIVES: JESUS FORETELLS THE END OF THE AGE
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the MOUNT OF OLIVES, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them....
MOUNT OF OLIVES: PRAYER, AGONY, BETRAYAL
And he came out, and went, as was his custom, to the MOUNT OF OLIVES; and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” And when those who were about him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Then they seized him and led him away....
THE GALILEAN MOUNTAIN OF THE RISEN LORD’S FINAL COMMISSION AND PROMISE TO HIS APOSTLES
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the MOUNTAIN to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
MOUNT OLIVET AND THE ASCENSION
And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from THE MOUNT CALLED OLIVET, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away