Paul writes that God has shone in our hearts to display God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. So, in Jesus, we get a glimpse, a hint of what God is and who God is. We believe Jesus is fully divine and fully human, the latter quality more difficult because we can’t imagine Jesus sharing our frailties. Even harder is seeing Jesus in the humanity around us. Dorothy Day wrote of a custom among early Christians to keep a room ready for any stranger needing shelter “not because the man or woman to whom they gave shelter reminded them of Christ, but because —plain and simple and stupendous fact—he [or she] was Christ.”
Let’s admit, the people in whom we see the face of Christ are greatly determined by how we identify our faith and our politics. Whether we lean left or right politically in the United States, we will not so easily see the face of Christ in people whose values and opinions differ greatly from our own.
Most difficult to see the face of Christ, for both sides, is on social media where we inhabit echo chambers filled with people who think like us and become enraged at those on the other side because we cannot understand how they believe as they do, so opposite from ourselves. We’re looking at the world through different lenses, for sure. Yet the task, the instruction, the requirement really, for both sides, comes back to that idea of seeing the face of Christ. Difficult, unless we trust in God’s assistance. And we can trust, because God has this long-established tradition of always showing up in our midst. So let’s expand the meaning of that word Emmanuel we use in Advent to: The God Who Shows Up. Let’s watch for those sightings.
Redeemer God, grant us the vision to see the face of Christ in everybody we meet. Amen.
The call of Samuel and the intimate language of the psalmist this week reflect God’s knowledge of and care for each individual. God sees each one of us, no matter where we are in life and no matter how far we might feel from God. Paul seeks to encourage the Corinthians with this same truth. Believers may be afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, beaten down, even killed; but they are never defeated. The power of a personal God flows through them, even if this is not evident to the eyes of the world. We likewise should be personally caring toward those around us. Jesus models this in Mark, demonstrating that showing mercy is more important than following even religious regulations, for mercy is the heart of God.
• Read 1 Samuel 3:1-20. When has a young person in your life or that of someone you know had to face the devastating consequences of a single bad decision? How did that affect your actions and behaviors?
• Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18. When have you experienced that life has no guarantees? How did you sense God’s presence in that time?
• Read 2 Corinthians 4:5-12. How do you attempt to be open to seeing Christ in everyone you meet?
• Read Mark 2:23–3:6. When do you, like Jesus, try to be proximate to persons in need? How has that changed your life?
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