Our missals identify today’s Gospel as coming from Matthew, Chapter seventeen, verses one ro nine. However, they leave off half of verse one. It stares, ”After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John, his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” To understand what happened on that mountain, one must be aware of what happened six days before.
Six days before, we read how Jesus announced, that he must go up to Jerusalem to suffer greatly and be put to death.
We know that Jesus was God, but we forget that he was also man. As man, he felt dread at the thought of his suffering and death. Jesus went up the mountain to beg the Father to give him strength to endure that suffering.
What happened on the mountain was that God stretched down heaven to let Jesus see a heavenly reward that would be much greater than the suffering awaiting him. Today’s reading asks us to imagine the floor of heaven to be something a trampoline’s stretch-material that could enclose Jesus within its bottom floor. He was temporarily a sharer in haaven’s glory.
The Jews imagined Moses and Elijah to be the two humans already in heaven. The grave of Moses, with himself in it, was whisked off to heaven, while Elijah had been taken up there in a fiery chariot.