Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (John 14:8-9)
“Lord show us the face of God, the face of Him whom no one has ever gazed upon. (cf. John 1:18)”
Philip was expressing the religious man’s deepest desire, to “see” God. From the dawn of history, man has wanted to see this wish fulfilled. Isn’t the history of what we call “idolatry” an outward expression of this need? But Jesus, whom a modern author has called “The Sacrament of God’s Encounter With Man” comes to meet man as the one in whom the face of God shines forth.
John Paul II in several ways has pointed to the contemplation of God in the face of Christ. Whether he is talking about the rosary or about the Church’s commitment towards the poor, he emphasized the connection between contemplation and the human need to have his existence fulfilled in the beatific vision. Some years ago, the then Cardinal Ratzinger also spoke about the contemplation of Christ’s face both as “beautiful” and “scarred and wounded” as a door to the experience of God who is both beautiful and true even when rejected. He writes:
The experience of the beautiful has received new depth and new realism. The One who is the Beauty itself let himself be slapped in the face, spat upon, crowned with thorns; the Shroud of Turin can help us imagine this in a realistic way. However, in his Face that is so disfigured, there appears the genuine, extreme beauty: the beauty of love that goes “to the very end”; for this reason it is revealed as greater than falsehood and violence. Whoever has perceived this beauty knows that truth, and not falsehood, is the real aspiration of the world. It is not the false that is “true,” but indeed, the Truth. (Source)
The answer of Jesus to Philip may have been surprising af first. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” This echoes what we know about the Word made flesh in the beginning chapter of John (1, 18):
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Jesus is the key to that beatific vision which the human heart longs for. It is through HIM that man will finally experience the answer to his deepest longings. “Fix your gaze upon the face of Christ,” John Paul II used to say. And in this, we find Benedict XVI echoing him:
Is there anyone who does not know Dostoyevsky’s often-quoted sentence: “The Beautiful will save us”? However, people usually forget that Dostoyevsky is referring here to the redeeming Beauty of Christ. We must learn to see him. If we know him, not only in words, but if we are struck by the arrow of his paradoxical beauty, then we will truly know him, and know him not only because we have heard others speak about him. Then we will have found the beauty of Truth, of the Truth that redeems. Nothing can bring us into close contact with the beauty of Christ himself other than the world of beauty created by faith and light that shines out from the faces of the saints, through whom his own light becomes visible.
Originally posted 2005-05-04 21:40:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
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