The Face of God-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
SOME people have asked me: what is the face of God? Can God have a face?
The same people are asking also: who is the Son of God? Can God have a son?
That is precisely the mystery of God: God does have a Face, God does have a Son.
In the Old Testament, the Psalmist David sings already: ‘Yahweh, how much longer will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13).
For David, Yahweh was his God and he knew that Yahweh had a face. Our Muslim brothers and sisters believe that Allah is their God and his face is that of Muhammad. We must respect that belief. When some people in the States ridiculed Muhammad in a filthy movie or even burned his effigy, that is for the Muslims a sacrilege and a blasphemy because that is desecrating the Face of God himself.
We Christians believe that God has a face and that God has a son. His Son is Jesus of Nazareth whom He sent into this world in order to be our Savior. Jesus of Nazareth saved us by sacrificing himself on the Cross. You can see his face on the crucifixes that people display everywhere. That is the Face of God. That face on the crucifix shows the suffering that Jesus has undergone for our salvation. Suffering is the Face of God.
Titus Brandsma, in his prison cell in Dachau and looking at the crucifix in front of him, could pray:
‘O Jesus, when I look on you
my love for you becomes more true.
And yours. I know, will never end:
you see me as a special friend.
This calls for courage on my part
but pain is a blessing for my heart.
For pain makes me become like you
and leads me to your kingdom, too.’
For Titus Brandsma, the face of Christ the crucified was a source of power and hope. He knew that the crucifixion of Jesus was not the end of all. It was just a passage towards his Resurrection, the victory over evil and death.
What can we learn from this for our own spiritual life?
At the anniversary of martial law, we learned that martial law has caused a lot of violence and destruction to our nation. We have learned also that as Christians, we are called to protest against all forms of injustice and violence. There should be no compromise. That is what the Catholic Church seems to have been doing during those days of martial law. But we have learned also that suffering is unavoidable. We cannot rebel against it, we must tolerate it and bear it. That may seem to be a defeat but it isn’t.
The mystics, like Titus Brandsma, have discovered that suffering has a positive meaning, even though it seems completely meaningless and absurd. Suffering can become for us a source of power and hope.
Looking at the face of the Crucified is looking at the Face of God and you discover in there the incomprehensible reality of God’s creative love.
In the solitude of his prison cell, Titus Brandsma experienced an air of great intimacy. He calls himself a ‘special friend’ of God and he knew also that this applies to every other person.
In his life, Brandsma always displayed great attentiveness to simple people. The emotion of ‘friendship’ is a striking element in his prayer to God. A true friend is close to us, thinks of us, and sides with us. The other person is a gift of love to us.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 25, 2012.