It was around this time in his ministry when Jesus began to tell the Apostles that his future would be fraught with open conflict with the religious authorities. In answer to the question – who do you say I am? – Peter had answered – ‘you are the Christ, the son of the living God.’ It was from that time on that Jesus began telling the apostles, warning them of the hard times ahead for him and for them. He must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly at the hands of the elders and chief priests and be killed. Peter wouldn’t hear of such things,’ this must never happen to you.’ Jesus called Peter Satan for trying to turn him away from his destiny which was to bear witness to the truth even if it cost him his life.
All this brings us to today’s gospel. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain side to spend some time in prayer. What a prayer it would be. God gifted the three to see Jesus as they never saw him before. His whole appearance changed – even his clothes began dazzling white. There were gifted by a vision of Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about his future trials in Jerusalem. Peter, James and John were awed by the whole experience and Peter blurted out,’ Lord it is good for us to be here.’ Let’s stay here as long as we can. We’ll build tents for the three of you. A voice repeated the message the three did not hear at Jesus’ baptism, ‘This is my son, my chosen, listen to him.’ Then it was all over. They saw only Jesus.
With that Jesus says, ’it’s time to go but keep this to yourselves.’ Coming off the mountain they meet a group of disciple and a desperate father whose son suffered from violent fits of epilepsy since he was a youngster. He wanted the disciples to cure his son but they were helpless. Jesus asks the father, ’do you believe I can to this?’ In desperation the father admits, ’I believe but help the little faith I have.’ The young man is healed.
Our lives are not lived on a mountain of spiritual highs. Our lives are lived in this valley of tears with it joys and sorrow, with sin and grace, with love and failure to love. Our lives are lived when there are time when things make sense and times when nothing makes sense. There are times when we are stunned by scenes of senseless violence and mass destruction and there are many times when we awed by people’s generosity and self-sacrifice. It is all part of the mix.
Remember it was the Peter, James and John Jesus took with him into the foreboding garden of Gethsemane. There they saw Jesus in desperate prayer, ‘if it is possible let this chalice pass me by’. They wanted to avoid Jesus’ struggle by escaping into sleep. They didn’t have the strength to watch and pray with him.’ No one said in Gethsemane, ‘Lord it is good for us to be here.’ It take great faith, great trust in God, great trust in Jesus to be able to say, in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves, ‘Lord it is good for me to be here because it is right here, right now you are with me and inviting me to trust your presence, your grace and especially your love for me. I trust in your promise, ‘I am with you always.’
As we continue to celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ we pray for ourselves and for each that always and everywhere we have the faith in Jesus to say, ’Lord it is good for us to be here.’