April 17, 2009

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

We can find divine love in an ordinary mirror

Rick HermannIs that a crack in my mirror?

No, the flaw is mine, a wrinkle on my face. The closer I look, the more I see. Lamenting my imperfections, I turn away in dismay.

I wonder what Jesus’ face looked like. Did he have wrinkles? What color were his eyes?

While Jesus was perfectly divine, he was humanly vulnerable, wounded by whip and thorn, scarred by nail and sword.

What would it have been like to sit near Jesus and see his face clearly?

Perhaps he was handsome, but maybe not. Maybe he looked ordinary, with a sunburned face and rough-hewn hands from his carpentry work.

Surely his eyes sparkled with wisdom and love like two pools of sunlit water.

No doubt Jesus’ smile radiated good cheer and invited people to come near.

As I see him in my mind’s eye, I recall his astounding words: “Whoever has seen me has seen the father … I am in the Father, and the Father is in me” (Jn 14:9).

How wonderful to think that anyone who gazed upon the face of Jesus also saw God at the same time!

I wish I had been there to see him.

Oh well, I guess I will have to wait until I get to heaven to get a really good look at Jesus. “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Cor 13:12).

Or perhaps we can see him clearly right now.

Jesus promised to show himself to anyone who loves him. “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn 14:21).

So if we love Jesus with a pure heart, we may expect to see his face clearly.

But wait, there is more. “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 Jn 4:15).

What a wonderful promise and a marvelous vision to contemplate—God may dwell in us, and we may dwell in God.

But how can we know this for sure?

“This is how we know that he lives in us: we know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 Jn 3:23).

Now we perceive this great mystery more clearly; we may be indwelled by all three persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

So the next time you see someone doing something kind or loving for Christ’s sake, you may look at that person and think, “Here I see a reflection of the face of Jesus” or “This person reveals God’s love.”

In the same way, when you are inspired to act in a Christ-like way to others, you may think, “I am representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Even if you are blind or infirm, paralyzed or imprisoned, others may still observe in you the holy likeness of God.

After all, our blessed Creator intended our likeness as a visible sign of his extraordinary love. “In his image he created them, male and female he created them” (Gn 1:22).

No wonder we are simultaneously thrilled and confused, humbled and exalted, transparent and transcendent.

“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18).

So the next time you look in the mirror, look more carefully. You may be pleasantly surprised to see yourself as Jesus sees you. You may also catch a fleeting glimpse of the loving face of God.

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic author and career coach. His e-mail address is RH222@sbcglobal.net.)

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