** Does anyone know why this is "only" a Feast and not a Solemnity?
Please share in comments if you do. Thanks. **
Fire is a powerful image throughout the Bible; it is a very striking symbol for the Peter, James and John who witness the Transfiguration of our Lord. For Peter, in particular, it is a significant symbol that marks his own transformation.
Jesus is transfigured between Moses, whose relationship with Yahweh began with the burning bush, and Elijah, who was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. Peter sees the Light of the world shining between two great heroes of the Israelite people and he wants to pitch a tent and stay on the mountaintop. Who could blame him? He recognized something wonderful when he saw it.
Not long after the glorious Transfiguration of the Lord, Peter finds himself in the courtyard of the high priest, warming himself in front of a charcoal fire. Standing before the fire, a powerful image of light, Peter denies his relationship with the Light that has come into the world. Just three chapters later, in John's Gospel, Peter is before another charcoal fire. This time, the Lord has prepared it and is cooking breakfast for the disciples. Following this famous breakfast on the beach, we have that poignant encounter between Jesus and Peter when Peter three times reiterates his love for Jesus.
On the mountaintop, Peter witnessed the glory of the Lord in his Transfiguration, a foreshadowing of the glory in which we are all invited to share. Peter's heart, like all of our hearts, needed to be transformed before he could share in this glory. His heart burned with love for the Lord and it was strengthened and purified by the grace of God after he suffered the agony of denying Jesus -- for Peter three times reclaimed what he three times denied. Let us ask for the grace of hearts which are open to the Lord's transforming work; let us ask Him to make our hearts like his own -- on fire with love.
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed."
1 Peter 4:12-13
1 Peter 4:12-13