Peter said to Jesus ‘Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (Luke 9:33)
Are there any jokes in the Bible? Well, not of the kind we might be familiar with today.
But there are plenty of stories which invite us to smile at the ridiculous of the words or the actions. Jesus riding into Jerusalem as king, but on a donkey, rather than a grand horse. The idea of a camel passing through the eye of a needle, of the blind leading the blind, or of a log in the eye. They all invite amusement, if not quite hilarity.
And today’s Gospel too: ‘Let us make three tents’, Peter says, floundering for words. Three tents! Even Mark makes apologies for him ‘he didn’t know what he was saying’.
But in a way he says something very important. He wants to makes this wonderful moment last for ever. He wants to bring it down to earth, preserve it in aspic, or carbonite, like a fossil.
He wants to make a heavenly moment into an earthly reality. And in that way he is sort of missing the point. Our other readings provide the key - in the first reading Abraham is told to look to the sky to see what his descendants will be like. And in our second reading St Paul tells us that ‘our homeland is in heaven’.
We fix our eyes on earth, our hopes on this life, our hearts on material goods - yet they never really satisfy, but however good they may be finally they disappoint.
Our true home is in heaven, the moments of joy are glimpses of eternity, this life a preparation for the life to come. Now we are preparing ourselves for paradise - and in this transfiguration we see Christ beckoning us through an open door.