The Genius of the Incarnation
Marty Lynch OFS
I found this recent article from ZENIT relevant to me as a Franciscan, because in it the Holy Father offers the faithful yet another insight into the genius that is imbedded within the mystery of the Incarnation, a mystery so central to our saintly founder’s major charism. So I’m offering this little piece that would be useful for our own catechesis and contemplation. May it bring you – as it has me -- to a prayer of gratitude to our merciful Lord who has provided us with yet another brilliant and pastoral Vicar of his holy presence on earth, the successor of John Paul the Great. Makes you want to shout, “Alleluia!”
What the prophets of the Old Testament longed for, and what even atheists today long for, is made possible by Jesus Christ, says Benedict XVI: We can see God's face.
This was the reflection the Pope offered Wednesday in the general audience, as he considered the revelation of God made with the Incarnation.
The Holy Father explained that Jesus' answer to the Apostle Philip, who requested to see the Father, is a synthesis of the Christmas event…Jesus' answer…leads us into the heart of the Christological faith of the Church; the Lord affirms: 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.'
This is a synthesis of the novelty of the New Testament, according to the Pontiff. God can be seen, he has shown his face, he is visible in Jesus Christ.
The theme of seeking God's face runs throughout the Old Testament, Benedict XVI added, with 400 uses of the Hebrew term for face, 100 of which refer to the face of God.
Still, Judaism, in forbidding the use of all images -- and thus standing in opposition to the worship of idols -- seems to totally exclude from worship and piety any possibility of seeing, the Pope observed.
What does it mean then, for the pious Israelite, to seek the face of God, while recognizing that there can be no image of Him … on the one hand, it is said that God cannot be reduced to an object, to a simple image, nor can anything be put in the place of God; on the other, however, it is affirmed that He has a face, that is, He is a 'You' that can enter into a relationship, who isn't closed in his Heavens looking down upon humanity.
God is certainly above all things, but he turns to us, hears us, sees and speaks, makes covenants, is capable of love. The history of salvation is history of God with humanity, it is the history of this relationship of God who progressively reveals himself to man, letting him see His face.
In fact, the Pope continued, The splendor of the divine face is the source of life, it is what allows us to see reality, and the light of His countenance is the guide to life.
God's progressive revelation culminates in Christ … God's affirm(s) to Moses…no one shall see me and live, (yet) something new happens with the Incarnation. The search for the face of God undergoes an unthinkable change, because now this face can be seen: that of Jesus,… In Him the path of God's revelation finds fulfillment, which began with the call of Abraham;… in Him the content of Revelation and the Revealer coincide.
The Holy Father affirmed that a desire to know God truly, to see the face of God is in every man, even atheists. This desire is fulfilled in following Christ… in the whole of our lives, not only when we are in need or find a spare moment.
The whole of life should be directed towards encountering Him, towards loving Him; and, in… the light of the Crucified One… to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, the weak, the suffering, Pope Benedict said. This is only possible if the true face of Jesus has become familiar to us in… entering into his Word in such a way as to really encounter him, and naturally in the Mystery of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist, the Pope said, is the great school in which we learn to see the face of God, we enter into an intimate relationship with Him, and we learn at the same time to turn our gaze towards the final moment of history, when He will satisfy us with the light of his face.
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome News Agency
Pax et bonum