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February 23, 2019: St. Polycarp, Bishop & Martyr

Reading Hebrews 11:1-7
Gospel Mark 9:2-13

Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

St. Peter’s ignorance is on display when he exclaims to Jesus: “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Peter’s suggestion is so simple that we might overlook what he means. Tents means something different to us today than they did to people in the day of Jesus. Tents to us mean camping, recreation, relaxation in the great outdoors. Tents in ancient days—when many persons and extended families were nomadic—meant putting down roots, staking a claim, and not moving on. So tents to Peter meant permanence, and meant having arrived.

The problem for Peter was that Jesus had no plans to rest. Jesus had a journey to make. He didn’t come into this world for rest and comfort. So Peter, likely reluctantly, followed Jesus back down the mountain, knowing that He had to stay with Jesus if he ever wanted to see such brilliance, beauty and glory again.

At this point in their journey, Jesus planted that seed in the apostles’ minds, and it began to germinate during the remainder of Jesus’ public ministry. Whenever in their memories they saw the sight of the Transfigured Jesus, they also must have heard that strange phrase: “rising from the dead”. Jesus helped them always to link these two: “rising”, and “death”. In other words, there is no Resurrection without death. There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There is no empty tomb, without the tomb.