These three Apostles, the special
companions of Jesus Christ, may be understood as three
virtues of our soul, without which no-one can climb the
mountain of light, the excellence of holy conversation.
Peter is the one who acknowledged, James (or Jacob) is 'the supplanter', John is
'the grace of the Lord'. Jesus took
Peter, and you too must take Peter, you who believe in Jesus
and hope for salvation from Jesus. Peter is the
acknowledgement of your sins, which consist in these three
things: pride in the heart, lust in the flesh and avarice in
the world. Take James, too. He is the supplanting of these
vices, so that you may tread the pride of your spirit under
the foot of reason; so that you may mortify the lust of your
flesh, and repress the vanity of the deceitful world. And
take John, the grace of the Lord, which stands at the door
and knocks (cf. Apoc 3.20), so that it may enlighten you to recognise
the evil things you have done, and help you in the good
things you have begun to do. -
When thou shalt come to the oak of Thabor,
there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel,
one carrying three kids, and another three loaves of bread,
and another carrying a bottle of wine. (1Kings [1 Samuel]
The oak of Thabor and Mount Thabor stand
for the excellence of a holy life, which may well be called
'an oak', 'a mount', or 'Thabor'. An oak, because it is
constant and unbending through perseverance to the end; a
mount, because it is high and lifted up by the contemplation
of God; and Thabor ('the coming light') by the enlightening
of good example. These three things are required in the
excellence of a holy life: that it be constant in itself,
contemplative towards God, and enlightening to our neighbour.
When you come to or prepare to climb the oak or mount of
Thabor, these three men going up to God will meet you. These
three are Peter who recognises, James who supplants and John
the grace of God. Peter bears three kids, James three
loaves, and John a bottle of wine.
'Peter' is he who recognises himself as a
sinner, and he carries three kids. The goat represents the
stink of sin, and the three goats are the three kinds of sin
which in general we commit: pride in the heart, unruliness
in the flesh and avarice in the world. Whoever wants to
climb the mountain of light must carry these three kids.
That is to say, he must recognise himself as a sinner in
these three ways. - 'James' is he who uproots the vices of
the flesh, and he carries three loaves of bread. Bread
represents the sweet savour of the mind, consisting in
humility of heart, chastity of body and love of poverty.
No-one can have this savour unless he has first uprooted the
vices. He carries three loaves of bread, the threefold
savour of the mind which represses pride of heart, restrains
the unruliness of the flesh and drives away the avarice of
the world. - 'John' is he who (with God's grace going before
him and following) keeps all these faithfully and
perseveringly. He carries a bottle of wine, and the wine in
the bottle is the grace of the Holy Spirit in a good will.
Jesus took Peter and James and John: do you also take these
three men, and climb Mount Thabor.