Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. (Mark 9:5-6)
The Transfiguration of the Lord (depicted above by James Tissot) is one of the most mysterious moments in the public life of Jesus. We contemplate it during this second Sunday of Lent. Why exactly the Lord Jesus chose this occasion and way to appear in glory to the three privileged Apostles, Peter, James, and John is hard to know. Christian tradition holds that it was to strengthen them in moments of doubt after Jesus’ death.
I love this scene because it shows Peter in a positive leadership role. Although he is afraid of the vision they are experiencing on the mountain top: Jesus transfigured, accompanied by Moses and Elijah back from the dead, he still interprets the event in an optimistic overtone. The exclamation, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!” allows Peter and the others to try to get their thoughts together, to spiritually regroup in the light of the mystery of the awesome scene. Peter had witnessed many overwhelming appearances of the Lord, such as the walking on water and the calming of the storms, and in a likewise manner, is now led by the Lord to this spot and this vision; thus Peter’s trust in Jesus momentarily overcomes his fear. This reveals something essential about Peter: he is fundamentally motivated by love and confidence.
Similarly for us, this week in Lent is a good opportunity for us to regroup and commit to a strong and continuous trust in Jesus. At times we might experience the fear of the responsibilities before us, like our health, finances, and holiness, or family and professional demands. Likewise, we might fear the requirements of our faith and the need for a true conversion. May Peter’s shout-out to the Transfigured Lord be an example of the trust-filled spontaneity and optimism that should mark our interior (and exterior) life.