A lot of people have been following the series “The Chosen.” Recently, I had the opportunity to rewatch an episode from season two with a group of people and discuss it afterward.
One of the things that struck me was a scene where Jesus was off healing and the apostles are in a different area, conversing and talking among themselves. Eventually, they sit around a fire and have a gripping conversation about many different topics. In this episode, Peter and Matthew have an argument. Peter was upset with Matthew because of his past profession as a tax collector and how he extorted so much money from him, making his life as a fisherman difficult. The conversation hits an apex when Peter tells Matthew, “I’ll never forgive you.”
Later in Jesus’ public ministry, he will teach about forgiveness — a message, in the mind of the “The Chosen” writers, Peter will need to hear. And in just a few short years, Peter will ask forgiveness from Jesus, not only when he falls into the water, but also after denying Jesus three times.
Some people might not like how Peter is portrayed, especially Catholics, since we acknowledge him to be the one chosen as the first pope of the Catholic Church. There is something intriguing about this portrayal though — a rough around the edges character who gradually comes to a point of conversion and transformation of life. “The Chosen” has only released two seasons, and they project there will be eight in total, meaning that Jesus has a lot of time to form Peter into the disciple and apostle he is calling him to be.
One of those moments of grace for Peter, and James and John, was the event of the Transfiguration. Interestingly, Luke’s account of the Transfiguration tells us that the three apostles were “overcome by sleep” but soon they became fully awake. This sleepiness can be analogized to the spiritual life, with laziness (sloth) or indifference.
But Jesus wants to wake us up. For Peter and the other apostles, it was this magnificent event, witnessing Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah, hearing the voice of God the Father, and seeing Jesus transfigured. The event made such an impression on the soul of Peter that he wanted to remain there and not come down from the mountain.
If you have fallen asleep, let Jesus wake you up this Lent. He wants to break through and transform your life as he did for Peter, who was a work in progress.
As we hear the Gospel of the Transfiguration this weekend, I can’t wait to see “The Chosen” portray it, and, hopefully, I’ll see what I expect — the gradual change of Peter.
Fr. Looney is pastor of the Catholic parishes in Brussels and Lincoln/Rosiere. He is the author of “A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary.”