A couple of things struck me about this quote. First, Leo does a great job of evoking Peter’s mindset at the wondrous moment of Christ’s Transfiguration. He draws out for us some real urgency and spiritual hunger from the words of the Evangelist, and I appreciated that.
Second, Leo notices a seemingly insignificant detail (there are no insignificant details in Scripture — every word and thought holds great meaning), and capitalizes on it. He glances at a detail that most of us would have passed over without notice, and draws a moral meaning from it, using it as an opportunity to remind his faithful hearers about the necessity of the Christian’s cross. Leo gently reminds us that we don’t get the glory and rest from our trials first; first it is appointed that we suffer with our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered so much for us and who calls us to follow Him. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14.22 kjv). A welcome and fatherly admonition for the Christian’s yearning heart.
The Apostle Peter, therefore, being excited by the revelation of these mysteries, despising things mundane and scorning things earthly, was seized with a sort of frenzied craving for the things eternal, and being filled with rapture at the whole vision, desired to make his abode with Jesus in the place where he had been blessed with the manifestation of His glory. Whence also he says, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt let us make three tabernacles (i.e. booths or tents), one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elias.” But to this proposal the Lord made no answer, signifying that what he wanted was not indeed wicked, but contrary to the Divine order: since the world could not be saved, except by Christ’s death, and by the Lord’s example the faithful were called upon to believe that, although there ought not to be any doubt about the promises of happiness, yet we should understand that amidst the trials of this life we must ask for the power of endurance rather than the glory, because the joyousness of reigning cannot precede the times of suffering.
(Leo the Great, A Homily delivered on the Saturday before the Second Sunday in Lent—on the Transfiguration, S. Matt. xvii. 1–13)