Sunday, March 16, 2014

Face It or Fear It

If we are to continue in this Lenten journey with sincere hearts intent on deepening our relationship with God and not just keeping the rules or requirements of our faith, then we have to continue our efforts at this authentic "FaceTime" with God. And today, in the second Sunday of Lent, we get it. Oh boy do we get it. 

"Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun..."
- Matthew 17

What a heart-breaking, mind-blowing beauty must have overwhelmed these first century fishermen, standing before that Face. These blue-collar, blistered and hand-calloused men stood with their own weathered faces, creased by countless hours in the light of another sun. It's powerful light was merely the earthly antecedent and icon of the light of the Eternal Son whom they now beheld. 

Think of your own experiences with beauty. A walk in the woods, the piercing rays of a sunrise or sunset over water or mountain. Stepping into the splintered and multi-colored light from high windows, spilling over the marble floors of a great cathedral.... Better still, think of the faces that surround you every day. The unrepeatable people in your daily life. The faces and the names...

Thoreau once reflected in his meditations by the shores of Walden Pond, “To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?”

Now multiply that ray of beauty to an infinite degree, one that never fades but only increases with each Eternal and Unfolding Now Moment. And this Face of God, this Jesus the Incarnate Son, knit forever to our humanity by His own, is madly in love with you. His Divine Gaze falls (and will fall for all eternity) on your own face, your human face, through and with His human eyes. It's insane, it's completely gratuitous, superabundant madness. It's crazy love.

"Look at Him looking at you," St. Teresa of Avila encourages us. This is Heaven.

In Pope Benedict's encyclical on the virtue of hope, Spe Salvi, he sends us into the fire and the light of this Beautiful Face:

"Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God."- Pope Benedict XVI, Saved in Hope, 47

Lord of Light, grant us the grace day by day to enter more deeply into this Your Holy Gaze, and not to fear this holy fire. There all can be made new. Let us not be afraid to see Your true Face, and in that light to finally see our own.

"Look to him and be radiant, and your faces may not blush for shame." 
- Psalm 34

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