The reading today is about the transfiguration (From the gospel according to Saint Mark). As I’m not that knowledgeable I had a hard time to understand what was happening in this text. So I looked around a bit and thought that I could share it with you.

The transfiguration - Raphael

Here’s Mark 9:2-9

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter and James and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves, and was transfigured before them. And his garments became shining and exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller upon earth can make white. And there appeared to them Elias with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he knew not what he said: for they were struck with fear.

And there was a cloud overshadowing them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying: This is my most beloved son; hear ye him. And immediately looking about, they saw no man any more, but Jesus only with them. And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them not to tell any man what things they had seen, till the Son of man shall be risen again from the dead. And they kept the word to themselves; questioning together what that should mean, when he shall be risen from the dead.

To my pleasant surprise it seems that I’m not the only one having a hard time to grasp what was happening here. Even the three apostles seems kind of confused too. So why did Peter say that he should start building tabernacles? Well, lets look at what Jesus, Moses and Elias is talking about.This is described in Saint Luke chapter 9:30-31:

And behold two men were talking with him. And they were Moses and Elias, Appearing in majesty. And they spoke of his decease that he should accomplish in Jerusalem.

My guess is that Peter rather thought of departure than of death. The three holy men talked about Christ’s departure from Jerusalem – which was death – But Peter did not know about Christ’s death and resurrection (as in questioning together what that should mean, when he shall be risen from the dead). He believe he just understand that Jesus will eventually departure from Jerusalem.

I believe this is the reason for Peters sudden outburst of love for carpentry and housebuilding. He finds it seemly to express his respect and love by referring to one of the three great feasts in the Hebrew liturgical calender: the Sukkot – the feast of tabernacles – an ancient Jewish festival in the remembrance of the Exodus (as in departure) and the temporary houses that was build during the great walk through the desert: Peter offers Jesus, Moses and Elias to make them tabernacles.

Isn’t this a nice thought: The great Apostle, the very first pope, was also a simple man, trying his best, and even when he doesn’t really understand, he tries so hard to do the best, and the most fitting, as he can.

– Pray for us, St. Peter, that we can act as humble and fitting as you did, when we do not understand.