Today at Mass we heard the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. In fact each year on the second Sunday of Lent we hear this story of Peter James and John experiencing Jesus in his transcendent glory.
I remember having my own transfiguration moment in my faith life. It is so vivid to me that I can almost tell you the exact day that it happened. (Well it was the year I turned 30 I do know that).
I was in a bible study that was reading Matthew’s Gospel. I was really having a terrible time with the parables. I found them to be most of the time totally unjust in human terms, and the rest of the time just too darned confusing.
Then one day I was meditating on the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16) I was really struggling with the injustice of the owner paying the same wage to the workers who had been in the field all day and those who had only worked an hour.
Jesus taught with parables in order to shake people up and make them see things from a new and different point of view. Somehow in my meditation I was granted the insight to let the story slip off the human axis I had seen it from and I began to see it not about how much work each person had done, but how much love the owner had to give.
This parable wasn’t about fair wages it was about eternal rewards. God offers each and every one of us the same reward. It doesn’t matter to God how long we have done His will. His love is lavishly heaped upon us; there is no human measure that can contain it.
I had struggled before because I was trying to keep God within the human boundaries that govern how humans can act. The celestial jolt of insight reminded me that God isn’t human, and can love anyone as much as anyone else because the rules about those things just don’t apply. My understanding of God took a quantum leap radically outward that day.
I began to see just how this Covenant love worked. God would always be faithful no matter how messed up we got on our journey toward heaven, and when we were ready to straighten out our lives and turn again toward what was true and right, God would be there with open arms to welcome us back and offer us the same reward offered to everyone who puts God first. For that shining moment God was revealed to me as the bright white being that Peter, James and John experienced. And, like Peter, James and John my life would never quite be the same.
Every time we hear this story in church I am reminded of my own transfiguration experience, and how humbling it was to finally realize how much love God had to offer the world, if only people were willing to reach out to him and receive it.