The Twelve Days: 1 - The Christ Child
Bishop Declan Lang
For the majority of people we recognise one another by looking at each other’s faces. Parent’s, relatives and friends in the early years of a child’s life, often say the child looks like one parent or another, one family member or another. Our face, in a sense, gives us away. It gives us an identity. It can attract people to us or it can keep people at a distance.
While he was in the wilderness, Moses was attracted by the burning bush from which he heard the voice of God. He responded to God’s voice and took off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground. We are then told that Moses covered his face because he was afraid to look at God (Ex. 3:3-6). However, at the end of his life and after his death it was written of Moses: “there has never been such a prophet in Israel as Moses, the man whom God knew face to face” (Deut: 34:10). In these words we are told how Moses travelled from the wilderness of his life, when fear so dominated him, to friendship with God and freedom of life. Through his trials and tribulations Moses became one with God and one with his fellow men and women.
The desire to see the face of God is echoed throughout the scriptures. The Psalmist prays “Of you my heart has spoken: seek his face. It is your face, O Lord that I seek; hide not your face” (Ps 27). This prayer is often uttered when people feel threatened or afraid.
Our prayers are answered. Throughout the Old Testament, there is an awareness of God’s voice, the power of God’s word. The powerful word of God becomes human in Jesus; “the Word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). God now not only has a word, God has a face and in that face we can see the love of God for all creation. In the face of Jesus we can identify God and in gazing upon that face we can know the presence of ‘God with us’ – Emmanuel. In the face of Jesus, God gave himself away. The face of Jesus will attract but there will be a time when that face is rejected and spat upon. There will be a time of fear and intimidation but throughout all these times we remember the words so often spoken by Jesus: Do not be afraid.
Image credit: Marcin Mazur/Clifton Diocese