In the various Gospels, Jesus often goes to a “deserted place,” or to a “mountaintop” to pray. And he often goes alone. In this portion of Luke’s Gospel, he takes Peter, James, and John with him to pray. (There seems to be just one more time when Jesus doesn’t pray alone, and that is when, in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, he undergoes what we call “The Agony in the Garden.”)
In Luke, we are just told that he takes his disciples with him. In Mark and Matthew, we see him once again single out Peter, James, and John, the three mentioned in today’s account of the Transfiguration, and allows them to stay closer to him as he prays. Perhaps that night, they were hoping for a special revelation like the one they experienced in today’s Gospel. Perhaps that brief moment of seeing Jesus in his glory and endorsed by Moses and Elijah gave Peter, James and John the courage they needed to keep on going. The experience on the mountaintop may have even increased their faith. But it wasn’t enough to sustain them through the death of their Master, for they pretty much abandon Jesus and hide themselves away. What would it have taken to keep them by his side?
Are we asleep or in a trance when all the important events of our lives take place? Does the Lord offer us a chance to pray that we miss out on, because we just take him for granted or forget how much he means to us?
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.