The Church Guys have finished the “Real Face of Jesus. Is this Him?
Re-reading this post, what sticks out is the Incarnation. God became one of us in all things but sin. He had hair. His eyes were bluish-gray. His hair brown. He had a mother. Thinking about that mystery leaves me dumbstruck with awe.
The whole topic of trying to figure out what Christ looked like provoked a lot of discussion. Some guys thought that we were the “face” of Jesus and trying to find the literal face of Jesus was illegitimate. Others thought that we fell so short of Christ that talking about being the “face” of Jesus was almost sacrilegious.
Although I was an advocate of one view, the more I think about it, both positions miss the point — and suffer from the same error. The point is the incarnation. Christ was a flesh and blood person. The two positions, however, spiritualize Christ. The first is a metaphor in the same way calling the Church the “Mystical Body of Christ” is a metaphor. The second is almost Gnostic; by(over)emphasizing our unworthiness, it almost reaches a point where matter, the physical, the concrete, are evil — in its rush to save Christ’s presence from being physically embodied in us, it ends up divorcing Christ from the world. That is error — an error any Church Guy ought to recognize having just studied John’s Gospel.
So where does that leave us? The ‘you are the face of Christ’ idea has much to recommend it. I think it needs to be understood a little more accurately, though. When we are in a state of grace, Christ’s very life is in us. We return His love with the only thing worthy of an infinite gift — by returning His love to Him through acts of service and of worship. We are unworthy to untie the sandals of His feet. But we can, if we want, hand on what we have been given — His grace. Through the sacraments and the ministry of the Church, we grow in our capacity to manifest that love. Not because of any merit or ability on our part — how can a finite creature repay even the smallest infinite gift? Our money’s no good. But God gives us what we need through the Church. Grace to have something to return. Grace to be pleasing to Him. If we understand being the “face” of Jesus to mean giving whatever grace we have back to Him and to those He loves out of love for Him, then yes being the “face” of Christ is our highest aspiration. Realizing that it is not our grace and that we really have nothing to give (except what we have been given) means accepting our limits.
The debate over the real face of Jesus turns out to be one of those debates where both sides were advancing a partial truth as if it were the whole truth. Whether we should try to figure out what Jesus looked like is the topic of Part II.
Filed under: Catholic Living | Tagged: Christ, Church, Church Guys, Emmaus, Gnostic, gospel, grace, Jesus, John, mystical body, presence, Real Face of Jesus, Real Presence, sacraments, Sacred Scripture, scripture, service | 1 Comment »