White – Jett Villarin, SJ

Matthew 17:1-9, The Transfiguration of Our Lord


Ever wonder what the color of God might be? Judging from the Gospel today, which tells the story of the transfiguration, it is probably “white as light.”

“Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.”

Strange because white isn’t even a color really. As far as light goes, white is a blend of all the colors of the rainbow. And if you were thrifty about it, you could create white light from just the three primary colors of red and green and blue. That’s also how a rich spectrum of colors is generated in the LED screen of your phone or computer. Imagine this elegant economy of three. Imagine the white of God, just from a trinity of colors.

White is the fullness of color. And God’s white is the fullness of, well, life and love.

Perhaps this explains why it is so difficult for us to see white or to find the white of God. We keep looking for white when all we need is to bring in all the colors. Perhaps it is the limited bandwidth of our humanity that gets in the way of doing that.

We are given to seeing just a few colors when we should be training our sights at the full spectrum. We are enthralled by one-dimensional narratives, storylines crafted by charismatic people who make cartoons out of real people. We are given to tunnel vision, a dangerous narrow-mindedness that can mean the difference between hope and despair, between life and death. We choose to see red alone, even when green and blue are just shades away. No wonder we are white-blind. No wonder we are lost and tired and afraid.

But we are not hopelessly tinted. If the transfiguration story is anything to go by, we know at least that God is good enough to give us glimpses of the whiteness of his light. We are given moments of clarity, however fleeting, even as we walk the night in fear and exhaustion.

We are given the power of a faith that can catch all the colors of the rainbow. We see this when we place our faith in Jesus who lived our multi-color lives, identifying himself not with those who wield brute power but with those who are pushed to the fringes by that hollow power. We see white at times from those who live at the edges of our vision.

We are given the simplicity of a hope that keeps us walking to whatever lies “over the rainbow”. We see this when we entrust our hope in Jesus who desires to lift the scales in our eyes so that we could see again the fullness of who we are, and the liberating truth of how dearly we are loved as God’s very own. We see white at times in those who quietly live that vision.

We are given the clearness of a love that gives us the will to offer our lives for others. We see this on the cross of Christ, and in every heart that has loved through the disfiguration wrought by indifference or hate. We see white at times from those whose faces have been transfigured and lined by love.

Let us not lose heart then when we find the whiteness of God so elusive in our lives today. We only need to turn to Christ, to listen to him, the beloved Son of God, “as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in [our] hearts.”

And for all the limited bandwidth of our humanity, we will need to refocus our gaze from seeing just only one shade in the rainbow. And to bring in all the colors, we will need to turn to each other to see with each other and to see for one another. Life is more than just monochrome and we are not hopelessly tinted.

It only takes the varying hues of our faith and hope and love to catch a view of the white of God. It only takes, if you wish, the blue of faith, the green of hope, and the red of love to get a glimpse of the “white as light” of God.

Behold this elegant economy of three. Behold the white of God, shining in Christ, flickering in our lives, just from such a luminous trinity.

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