A Reflection on the Holy Face of Jesus
“Look at My face, Josefa, it is sin that has thus disfigured it. The world precipitates itself into pleasures of all kinds; such a multitude of sins are committed that My soul is drowned in bitterness and grief… Where shall I find relief for My sorrow? I come here seeking shelter and love in order to forget for awhile the ingratitude of men.” (Way of Divine Love).
Looking upon Our Lord must be an unimaginable joy of the saints in Heaven. Once we look upon God…how could we want to look away, and not love Him? Forever, for all eternity… everything: His Holy Face, His eyes, Sacred Heart, the wounds that He bore for us with infinite love – all inflame our hearts to love Him more and more, the longer we spend gazing upon Him. Here on earth, people find joy in looking at those they love, and we hear of a person memorizing the face of their beloved. How beautiful to memorize His Face, to memorize every detail. After a thousand years, it would not be enough, every moment would be like the first time, that first moment and joy of knowing that we are His, forever and ever, resting in His embrace.
But to see Him looking back at us? God, our Creator, looks at us… with infinite compassion, love, and mercy in His eyes. Who are we, that we can look into His Face, His eyes. And if we can behold not a Judge, but a Merciful Savior, who says “your sins are forgiven, go in peace”. How can we hope, that He would smile at us… we cannot deserve this. It is only His Mercy, His love… such amazing love. We do not comprehend. What can we do in return? Nothing would be enough… not any of our good works, not any suffering, can be enough, it is only in Mercy that God accepts them. We can spend eternity lovingly thanking Him, kissing His holy wounds, thinking of the pain He endured to redeem us. He could have suffered much less and still saved us… He gave everything, everything He had, He suffered like no one has ever suffered, before or since. His love is such that even for one person, He would do this… His love is such that He would be ready to go through torments thousands of times. He died and rose again and now lives forever and ever. His love is infinite.
How can it be, that God not only accepts our love but delights in it? What is our love? It is only what we have received from Him… and our cooperation, is often so weak, so lukewarm. He gives us the power to love, and we love so feebly, so little, and still we find this is like a treasure to Him, which He delights to look at, which brings joy to His Heart. It is His love that makes it so… our love is less than an atom compared to an ocean. His Heart is an abyss of love. He takes us into His Heart and unites us with Him, and our poor little hearts are consumed in His love.
Do we let Him?
Behold Jesus as He suffers… how much we want to see Him happy, joyfully speaking to His disciples, His friends… but He is all alone. Longingly, He looks at the people gathered around Him… would any comfort Him? He healed them of illnesses, cast out demons from them, with God’s power He helped them all… earnestly, He prayed to the Father for His disciples, for all who would follow Him. But He sees so many cold looks in return. There’s a hatred in their eyes, and for what? Gladly, He would give His life for them… they strike Him, and spit in His Face. One who was among those counted as His own – comes up to Him and kisses Him… but it is not a kiss of love, but of betrayal. Is there not one who would comfort Him? He prayed in the Garden and His sweat became drops of Blood. He saw the many souls throughout the ages, rejecting Him, persisting in sin, rejecting the gift that He is about to make for them, the gift of His own life… going into the darkness, ignoring His hand stretched out to rescue them, ignoring His pleas to turn their hearts towards His, even for an instant (9). Even if they show a little willingness, He could give them grace and do what they cannot (2)… but they refuse repentance, turn away and fall down into the dark abyss forever. Each soul, unique and unrepeatable, a soul made in the image and likeness of God, that can give God something no other soul can – is now forever set against Him, unable to love.
Our Lord’s love is met only with scorn, laughter… they pierce His Head and mock Him. The King of all and Creator of the universe, through whom all things were made, who is one with the Father in eternity – is crowned in mockery with thorns, a purple robe put around His shoulders… and so many souls throughout time join, mocking His kingship, ignoring His laws, preferring to make ones of their own over already set by the Father. So many not believing Him, denying God’s existence, blaspheming…
Shortly before, He is scourged. His pure and divine Body is cut, over and over, till His Blood covers the ground. They laugh and mock as they scourge Him. Why do they not have compassion? Their faces are only full of fury and hatred for Him. They strike over and over, His back, chest, shoulders… His flesh is torn off and you can see the bones and still they do not stop. He offers this suffering to the Father… and once again so many souls though out time, join to scourge Him as they commit sins of impurity, and prefer ‘a moment of enjoyment to His love’ (1).
“What struck me most was the expression of His tortured eyes – those eyes usually so beautiful and so expressive… to-day they were closed, swollen and filled with blood, especially the right eye” (Sr Josefa Menendez, Way of Divine Love – describing her vision).
Jesus falls and the only response from others is to hit Him harshly, and yell at Him to get up. His Blood is flowing from His many wounds… and as He carries His Cross, He falls again and again. He is trying to find the strength to raise Himself up, though it means more suffering, but He is ready to give it all… and the Creator of everything is on the ground, His wounds made more painful by repeated blows. (7)
He struggles to stand up again, and as He once again carries the weight of the Cross – and the weight of our sins – it wounds His shoulder and causes unknown anguish… how often do we think of this wound?
The Roman soldier bends down beside Jesus. Jesus looks at him… this is a man that He created. One day he was born, and lived as a child. Jesus sees everything about this man. If only he would turn, would meet His eyes, and understand the love shown there… but neither does he respond to Love, and – holding the nail to His hand, raises the hammer… a pain like thunderbolts goes through His Body. The other arm… then the feet… Jesus raises His eyes to the Father. Abba!
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!”
The soldiers cast lots for His garments.
Jesus looks into the eyes of His Mother, standing near the Cross… He beholds her suffering, as she sees her Son’s Body so torn, as to shreds, as she sees Him nailed to a cross before her, His Precious Blood flowing down… the Sorrowful Mother, and she weeps and her grief is as none can describe. How dear she is to Him. Mother and Son both suffering, her heart and her pain joined to His.
Incredible thirst overtakes Jesus. Not just thirst for water… but thirst for compassion, and for souls. How many would come to Him? How many would be willing to become one with Him, as He is one with the Father?
A darkness covers the whole earth… and Jesus looks to the Father but His Face cannot be found. “Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachtani”?
(image credit: http://holycardheaven.blogspot.ca/