Seeking the Face of the Lord – this is what Christian life is all about
July 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – “Your face, O Lord, will I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Ps 27:8–9). Pope John Paul II writes about this verse:
The ancient longing of the Psalmist could receive no fulfilment greater and more surprising than the contemplation of the face of Christ. God has truly blessed us in Him and has made “His face to shine upon us” (Ps 67:1). At the same time, God and man that He is, He reveals to us also the true face of man, “fully revealing man to man himself.”
Everything we do in our spiritual life is for the purpose of allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the face of Jesus to us, conforming our face, our eyes and what they see, our ears and what they hear, our mouths and what they speak, to His in the process. The end is the blessed vision of God, “face to face,” as Scripture says. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus said: “Your face, O Lord, is my home.” And she was right. Home is where we rest, where we dwell and live, where we learn to love. That is what the Face of Jesus is for us: we are only finally at home with Him.
If we remember this, we can endure all trials and difficulties.
What is the virtue with which we endure trials on our way to eternal life? Hope. Hope is one of the most precious gifts of God. The Holy Spirit gives hope in the midst of the most humanly hopeless situations; most people do not know how powerful is the gift of hope, because in the hopeless situation they forget to use it, they are dragged down by the weight, depressed by the darkness, they get amnesia and forget who is there beyond the darkness, stronger than the evil, eternally strong and young.
True hope is not naïve, blind, or optimistic. It sees real difficulties, looks straight at disaster, dwells in the thickest darkness, calls a spade a spade. But it never gives in or gives up. It does not think that evil will have the last word or the upper hand. Instead, hope looks to the One who makes the impossible possible.
Let us remain always under the gaze of Christ, allowing Him to lead us. His is the face of the Son, the sorrowful face, the glorious face; and it is His face that we must learn to see in the poor, in our brothers and sisters, in the unborn and the elderly, in the unwanted, the forgotten, the neglected, the marginalized—in all men, for all men are poor, whether they acknowledge their poverty or not.
The grace of God brings it about that we love even those whom we dislike or would be tempted to hate. This is the very mark of the Christian: that “he loves the brothers,” as St. John says, and all men are, or can become, our brothers in Christ. To do this requires a great spirit of poverty in us. Heaven is only for beggars. Only the empty-handed make it into the kingdom.
Jesus’s only identity: the beloved Son of the Father. In all of His faces—as a child, as a boy, as a young man, on the Cross, in the resurrection, in heaven—He has but one identity: the beloved Son of the Father. Our true identity we can receive only from Christ: we are children of God, sons in the Son, little children of the Father. If this identity of ours is lost, everything else is lost. This is why we must pray so that we can see our own face as that of a child of the Father.
This is in fact the heart of Christianity: being, and becoming, what we truly are—children of the one Father who not only loves us but is love, who “called us into being through love and made us for love” (John Paul II).
What is it that friends most desire? To see one another, to speak with one another, to spend time together, to share their lives, to work together. “I call you not servants, but friends”: Jesus wants to live a common life with us, he wants to make His life our life. We are transformed in the likeness of Christ when we live with Him and learn from Him, when we seek His face, and gaze upon it.