In today’s gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus, I find myself thankful for Peter. Peter, James, and John were the three chosen to be with Jesus during His transfiguration in which Elijah and Moses stopped by for a chat.  God makes no mistakes, yet I am in awe of the rich symbolism and literal meanings behind this iconic Bible story. 

Jesus’ face shining and His clothes turning a dazzling white is reflective of His 100% divine nature, and a throw-back to when Moses received the 10 commandments from Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:29-35).  As a devout Jew, this would be an incredible and obvious connection that Jesus is the Messiah. 

For this to happen on a mountain top is fitting with the scriptures for both Moses and Elijah as God spoke with them on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24 and 1 Kings 19). Abraham took Isaac up Mount Moriah to sacrifice him (Genesis 22), and Solomon built the temple on the summit of Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3).

While we don’t know what mountain Jesus, Peter, James and John were on for today’s Gospel, we know what it means symbolically to be atop a mountain.  When we are at the top of a mountain we are able to see the big picture; we are able to see how things may fall into place and become acutely aware of what is below. We are brought to a place naturally outside of ourselves.  How many people summit a mountain and think, “That’s it?”  No!  We are astounded by the view before us taking us, even if only momentarily, out of ourselves. 

And Peter.  My dear brother, Peter. He speaks up and tells Jesus that he wishes to create three tents.  This is certainly in response to the incredible vision the three disciples saw and Peter’s way of telling Jesus that he recognizes the importance of what they have just witnessed.  Peter wants to stay on the mountain top – to build the tents as a place of holiness and reverence (think of the tent of meeting where God dwells in the desert wanderings). Before Jesus can answer him, a cloud comes and instructs the three to “Listen to Him” in what I imagine would be a booming voice.  In fear, Peter, James and John immediately fall prostrate and when they get up, everything is back to normal. 

Then, they head down the mountain. 

When I feel close to God from a mountaintop experience, I wish to stay there! I wish to build a tent there and go back, much like what Peter wanted to do.  My dear brothers and sisters, we are not called to be at the top of the mountain.  We are called to have our hearts transformed by God and return to the valley.  This lent, when you pray your rosary and meditate on the Luminous Mysteries, pray during the 4th decade that the Lord may transfigure your heart and give you the grace and strength you need to tend to the valley.