My time at Camp Crucis recently reminded me of my days as a Boy Scout. My old friend, Fr. Moseley, or Father Salt as I like to call him, was a fellow Scout, and we went on many camp-outs together. We learned many things about camping. We learned to prepare our gear, shop for food, prepare meals, and best of all we learned how to put up tents and set up camp.
It was fun, too! Part of the fun was finding the best place to set up camp. We would hike for hours it seems to get a far away from civilization as possible. There were no distractions, no cell phones, no internet in those days. Our idea of networking was putting our heads together to identify the flora and fauna!
I don’t camp out anymore, but my idea of roughing it has changed somewhat since the Scouting days. Now my idea of roughing it is a hotel room without a coffee maker.
Peter, or Rocky as I like to call him, liked to camp out, too. He knew about camping out because of the Feast of Booths, which could be called the Feast of Tents.
The Feast of Booths (known to some as the Feast of Tabernacles) is the seventh and last festival on the biblical calendar, as recorded in Leviticus 23. Also known as Sukkot in Hebrew, God wanted the Israelites to observe this festival by living in temporary shelters for seven days as a reminder that when their ancestors were in the wilderness of the Exodus, God provided them booths to dwell in.
Peter wanted to honor Jesus, Moses, and Elijah by providing tents for them. The tradition of providing a tent, or a Tabernacle for Jesus continues to this day in every church that believes Jesus is present in the sacrament of the altar.
We call it a Catholic tradition because it has been practiced by the Universal, or Catholic, Church since the earliest days. We reserve the sacrament after mass so that it can be available to be taken to the shut-ins or hospitalized of our church. We burn a candle near the Tabernacle to signify the presence of the sacrament.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration to recall the time on the mountain where Jesus met with Moses, and Elijah, and he was transfigured. He was changed from a mortal figure to his heavenly, eternal figure.
Why Moses and Elijah? I think that Moses represented the Law, and Elijah represented the prophets. Remember the words of our Lord when he answered the question about which commandment was greater? He gave his answer of the two greatest commandments, then He said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.”
With the presence of Moses and Elijah, Jesus fulfilled the Law and Prophesy. He embodied them. He satisfied the Law, and fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would come.
This glorified body of Jesus is a feast to us, in his sacred Body and Blood which we partake during Holy Communion.
I believe that Jesus was also showing Peter, James, and John their destiny, and also ours. We, too, will be transfigured at the end of the age. Because we are believers and have been baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, we have a destiny.
Jesus reminds us that this life is temporary. Some people in this world are fond of living as if there is no life after this one. They try to find what makes them happy, what satisfies their own needs. This is a pursuit that can never reach its goal.
We have learned from Jesus that it is only in the service of others that we find true happiness. Service to others comes in many forms. We offer our service in the form of our giving in the plate, in the time we spend helping others, and in using our talents to find more ways to help.
I personally have found this to be true. In the various ways I serve others, I experience the joy of serving. Don’t get me wrong, I also experience some frustration, too. There are people who try to take advantage of our help, and those who only want a hand-out.
I try not to judge the motives of those I try to help, but I can pray for those who are lost in this world. If I fed the least of these, than I have fed the Lord.
The Transfiguration of our Lord was a wonderful sight for those who got to be there, and it is wonderful for us, too.
We, too, shall be transfigured at the last day, and would should never forget. We must live our lives knowing that we are the Lord’s and that he will never let us down.
Listen to these words from St. Paul who gave us all the hope we need:
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality… But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.