As Peter experiences Jesus transfigured in the presence of Moses and Elijah, he longs to preserve the glory.
The first temple of the Israelites was a rectangular tent about forty-five feet by fifteen feet surrounded by much larger rectangular open air tent. In this enclosure incense was burned and animal sacrifices were cooked as offerings to God and then shared with the people. This communion meal offered to God in heaven and eaten by God’s people on earth was the heart of the sacrificial worship of ancient Israel and a revelation of God’s glory on earth.
God is everywhere but the tent becomes the place where through ritual we act out our relationship with God. As kids make tents in the living room make believe they are on a mountain or in a desert, we too make believe through the sacred space that worship creates in us.
The transfiguration of Jesus was meant to strengthen Peter, James and John to remain faithful to him through the passion and cross. But it was not they but Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene who remained with Jesus in his agony.
These holy women internalized the glory of God and so they remained faithful disciples. Peter wants to capture the glory, to preserve it and perhaps control it.
The less energy we put into longing for and trying to control glory and the more energy we put into “make believe”, or internalizing our faith and following of Jesus the more resilient disciples we will be after the brilliant and intense experiences of faith have passed.
When we behave outside the tent the same way as we behave inside the tent our vocation is strengthened and we will be able to remain where Jesus continues to be crucified in our in our modern world. This will reveal to the world the Glory of God, which St. Irenaeus described humanity fully alive.
By Mark Blom, OMI
To contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at email@example.com to arrange for an appointment.