March 9, 2017

The Face of Christ

In the Face of Christ is the truth about God and the truth about the human heart. To say that we are a mystery to ourselves is to acknowledge that the heart has depths that only God's mercy knows.  In deep movements that we do not understand or even notice, He is there gazing on us with tender love.  Through a glance that unveils the immensity of his mercy, the Almighty discloses Himself to our frail nature: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity does this through the Face of Christ. Though sovereign to gaze or not gaze on us at all, The Three-in-One and One-in-Three has chosen to see us through the Risen Eyes of His Son, our Crucified Lord.

The gaze of the Face of Christ opens our whole existence to a circumcession of love and life, of truth and goodness, of grace and mysterious glory. As the Word of the Father, the Son's compassionate contemplation of our existence creates a kind of harmony within us. He sees into its very depths of who we are and nothing will avert His gaze - for He loves us and thirsts for us.

This harmonizing gaze of Divine Mercy is not over and against our lack of love and bitter sorrows.  He does not overlook or ignore the disappointments and frustrations, or failures and inadequacies that haunt us. He is not a stranger to the rejection and abandonment against which we struggle. He knows we are weary from the contention and rancor that relentlessly pull at us. Before His Face, we do not suffer alone - for He shares our heartaches with us and is moved to sew His un-vanquished love into the very fabric of all this pain. In this, the gaze of Christ makes all things new.

In the Face of Christ Risen from the Dead, the Father's love is disclosed to us anew. Behold in His Eyes a love that is stronger than death - a love no power in heaven or on earth or under the earth can overcome. To gaze into the Eyes of Christ who gazes on us with love is to see the Father who awaits us in love. In the face that suffered unto death, He shares with us the secret of the Father's heart.

To humbly meet His gaze is to be pierced by how the Father broods over us at each moment and will not rest from searching for us until we are safe at home in His love. To win us over is why He sends His Spirit of Love into our hearts - convicting us about our sin and inviting us to the freedom of His sons and daughters. To help us find our way, He speaks His Word of Truth into our hostile silence and empty alienation-- even to the point that He gave Himself up and was crucified for love of us.

How do we find this Face of Christ crucified by love? The most simple turn of the heart finds Him, and the Holy Spirit very delicately works that this tender moment of recognition might be ours.  A humble cry of faith offered with perseverance and trust knows this gentle surrender of God and the human heart together.

To find the face of Christ is to strive to surrender to a Divine kiss.  He has not repented of bowing down to enter into our lives that we might receive this great gift.  He has suffered such betrayal that we might knows this grace. But to look into His eyes is to see that no betrayal could ever overcome His devotion to us.

To find the face of Christ is to return this His kiss through the bowing down of our being in contrite repentance before Him. These can be moments of prayer where we kiss the Cross of Christ. They can be moments of mercy in our dealings with others where we render Christ hidden in our neighbor the tender affection for which He longs. They are rarely convenient moments, but they are always deep moments of the heart. Our tradition calls this adoration - and there is nothing more healing for the heart than to allow itself to be kissed by God and then to offer God the kiss for which He longs.

To be captivated by the love that fills those Risen Eyes is the vision to which our faith avails us. No more than a surrender to the deep currents of the Holy Spirit running through the heart, to lift our eyes to the loving gaze of the Lord silences the chaos within. It establishes us in peace. It envelops us in love. To allow ourselves to be astonished by the love of the Father living in His humble glance, this is what it means to have the Holy Spirit reveal the Face of Christ.