In the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (Luke 9:28-36) from the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Lent, is a traumatic event for the disciples, especially Peter:

[28] Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. [29] And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white.  [30] And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Eli’jah,  [31] who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. [32] Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. [33] And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli’jah” — not knowing what he said. [34] As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. [35] And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” [36] And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Poor Peter.  He has a rough time:

  • The Transfiguration, one of the most impressive events in recorded human history is about to occur, and the disciples are falling asleep.
  • Peter and the disciples, perhaps exhausted from trying to keep up with Jesus, are falling asleep.
  • Suddenly, the disciples are awakened, perhaps because of the astounding light that Jesus is putting out as He is Transfigured.
  • Peter, perhaps still a little drowsy, offers to make booths, small tent-like structures that Jews make each year to celebrate the Feast of the Booths (Leviticus 23:39-43).  Of note: Peter, like all the disciples, is an observant Jew.
  • To Peter’s credit, he recognizes Elijah and Moses and wants desperately to extend the experience of being in their presence.
  • Luke tells us that Peter is a little off kilter:  “…not knowing what he said.”
  • It seems clear that Peter is overwhelmed and perhaps a little confused: certainly Jesus, able to be Transfigured, and Moses and Elijah returned from the dead, do not need booths.

In reading the Gospels, we can sometimes feel empathy for Peter as he seeks to come to grips that he is hanging out with God.

As becomes clear in Acts, Peter rises to the occasion, becoming the Church’s first and greatest Pope.