Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In the various Gospels, Jesus often goes to a “deserted place,” or to a “mountaintop” to pray. And he often goes alone. In this portion of Luke’s Gospel, he takes Peter, James, and John with him to pray. (There seems to be just one more time when Jesus doesn’t pray alone, and that is when, in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he undergoes what we call “The Agony in the Garden.”)
In Luke, we are just told that he takes his disciples with him. In Mark and Matthew, we see him once again single out Peter, James, and John, the three mentioned in today’s account of the Transfiguration, and allows them to stay closer to him as he prays. Perhaps that night, they were hoping for a special revelation like the one they experienced in today’s Gospel. Perhaps that brief moment of seeing Jesus in his glory and endorsed by Moses and Elijah gave Peter, James and John the courage they needed to keep on going. The experience on the mountaintop may have even increased their faith. But it wasn’t enough to sustain them through the death of their Master, for they pretty much abandon Jesus and hide themselves away. What would it have taken to keep them by his side?
Are we asleep or in a trance when all the important events of our lives take place? Does the Lord offer us a chance to pray that we miss out on, because we just take him for granted or forget how much he means to us?
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.
God of the Covenant, you invited Peter, James, and John to witness Jesus’ transfigured glory. At Jesus’ touch may I get up and go unafraid to tell about the life and light Jesus brings to our hearts and homes. Amen.
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