Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 284

"If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." 

"God has a human face!" How shocking that statement is for us. A secular age which would depersonalize everything, changing even God into a machine, struggles valiantly to suppress the human face of God. 

But we see him everywhere. We have our favorite images. We like the Baby Jesus lying in a manger and nursing at his mother's breast. We reverence the sacred images of the tormented, tortured Christ, especially in Veronica's Veil and the Shroud of Turin. Recently, pictures of a laughing and loving Jesus have surprised the faithful, especially the elderly Christians who were weaned on more somber images of Jesus. 

We see him also in the faces of little children, even of different races and nationalities. Old faces too speak to us of God's wisdom, serenity, patience or pathos. A more challenging, "liberal" school wants us to see the face of God in drug addicts, immigrants, homosexuals, criminals and other "deplorables." 

Our spiritual leaders, striving to reintroduce civility into partisan politics, would urge us to see the face of God in our opponents and enemies. "Love your enemies!" they say, quoting the Master. If we can imagine our enemies as children of their parents, parents of their children and spouses of their partners perhaps we can see the spark of the divine in them. We might even discover ways to hear them with respect and acknowledge at least some of the truth they speak to us. Is it possible that ISIS is saying something we need to hear; and, if we hear them, they might be satisfied? 

Perhaps no face is as unwanted as the face of authority. Religious leaders are routinely suspected of abusing their authority to build their congregations and force their doctrines down my throat. Theology is just propaganda to oppress the open mind. Presidents, senators, congresspersons, mayors and councilpersons serve only their own private ends or, at best, their own constituency. Law enforcement must maintain the thin blue line between good and bad people; and the no man's land between them is necessarily violent. Politics, it's assumed, is an evil. In heaven there is no beer -- and no politics! 

The Lord came a long way down when he assumed human flesh with a human face; he descended even further when he sent his Spirit into human beings to reflect an image which is gendered, racial, classified and authorized. Sometimes his shining, human face is more than we can bear. But we cannot be saved unless we have seen it. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.