In one part of the passage today it says “Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him…” After the disciples with Jesus wake up, they realize the amazing Transfiguration and heavenly conversation happening right before them. St. Peter’s response seems to be right in many ways, especially where he desires to stay in the midst of the transfigured Lord Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. We can all resonate with this inclination. Yet the three disciples are told it is better for them to listen to Jesus, to continue the journey toward Calvary and the building of the church. Their time in glory would come later. But it must have been an amazing preview! I wonder how these experiences and nearness to Christ helped them as they faced intense persecution and death.
There is a connection in the gospel reading today to the ratifying of the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 15:5-12, where we read about a deep and terrifying sleep or darkness that fell upon Abraham. This seems to be very much like what happened to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. The presence of God is deep and heavy. We may not be ready for it totally, and definitely not without sufficient preparation. And it is only when we awaken from our spiritual slumbers that we realize what is happening right in front of us. We may wonder if God is working in our lives. Specifically, when how He might be doing so when it is not as evident as we want.
Sometimes God gives us a glimpse of what He is doing. We get a snapshot of the bigger picture, or perhaps what might be called a ‘mountaintop’ experience of the glory of Christ. When the mountaintop experience happens, we don’t want to leave. St. Paul also writes of such an experience (2 Corinthians 12:1-6). We must be prepared to take the graces God gives us and then continue our path. The glimpses help sustain us when times are tough. We have a deeper connection to our heavenly home, while still realizing a strong sense of purpose on our earthly pilgrimage.