February 13, 2023 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Rev. David Justin Lynch
Exodus 33:11-23 | Psalm 27:1-4
I Corinthians 13:8-13 | John 1:14-18

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

The face is the “organ of emotion.” We constantly read facial expressions to understand what others are feeling. The face also contains other powerful clues. Our identity is captured in our features, and our eyes reveal important truths about us, even those we would prefer to conceal. Our face also plays a critical role in physical attractiveness.

The face is one of our most important possessions. The face provides vital clues to our feelings and those of the people around us. Our faces are a dynamic canvas, one in which emotions are drawn vividly, then suddenly erased, only to be redrawn in a new expression an instant later.

While the face is the “organ” of emotion, it is also much more. The face is an important channel of identity; friends and acquaintances can recognize us before a word is said. Our face develops as we do, from infancy, into adulthood, crossing into middle age, and finally into the senior years–always retaining features already prominent in childhood.

The face is our most powerful “channel” of nonverbal communication. We “encode” messages in our facial expressions, and we simultaneously “decode” the faces of the people around us. In even the most simple interaction, our attention naturally gravitates to the face, seeking to read some of the vital information we know is “written” there.

We constantly monitor the face because it provides vital clues to an impressive variety of possibilities: attraction, whether a person likes or dislikes us, the complexity of emotions, identity, age, humor, and a person’s regional and even national background.

The face is perhaps the most important human art object. Cosmetics, coloration, hair length and style, and other qualities all figure in perceptions of physical attractiveness. People can even decide to modify this most personal art object through piercings of the face or through plastic surgery.

All human faces are unique and contribute to individual identity. Moreover, the face is one of the most fundamental parts of the body for self-recognition. Vision, hearing, olfaction, eating, and breathing are considered the primary functions of the face. In addition, the face is important for expression. People who experience facial deformities due to trauma or burns possess a negative self-image compared to those with normal faces

From the first time Christian children settle into Sunday school classrooms, an image of Jesus Christ is etched into their minds. In North America, he is most often depicted as being taller than his disciples, lean, with long, flowing, light brown hair, fair skin, and light-colored Familiar though this image may be, it is inherently flawed. A person with these features and physical bearing would have looked very different from everyone else in the region where Jesus lived and ministered. Surely the authors of the Gospels would have mentioned such a stark contrast.

On the contrary, according to the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion, Judas Iscariot had to indicate to the soldiers whom Jesus was because they could not tell him apart from his disciples. Further clouding the question of what Jesus looked like is the simple fact that nowhere in the New Testament is Jesus described, nor have any drawings of him ever been uncovered.

Since Jesus rose from death and ascended into heaven, he left behind neither a body nor other bodily remains to probe for DNA. So, in the absence of evidence, our images of Jesus have been left to the imagination of artists.

From the impressions made on the walls of the catacombs of Rome to the mansions of the wealthy, Jesus Christ has been the inspiration for the world’s great art, The face of Jesus has been the inspiration of all the world’s great artists. Rubens, Raphael, DaVinci, Titian, Michelangelo, and thousands of others, have all taken brush and pallet in hand and painted the face of Jesus as they pictured it in their mind.

The images populating your mind’s eye may be different from mine, but the person will be the same. As I read the Gospels and ask myself what Jesus looked like, the first profile that comes together in my mind’s eye is a profile of compassion. Jesus reached out to women and men neglected and ignored by other people. He felt what they felt. He suffered as they suffered. He touched the untouchables such as the leper, the widow, the blind beggar, and all the outcasts of society.

Another profile that becomes apparent is that of tenderness. Unlike weakness, tenderness reveals sensitivity. He related to children, yet was a man’s man who could take a whip and drive the money changers from the temple. His face undoubtedly revealed strength of character and firmness. No weak-kneed, emasculated character who had lace on his handkerchief, Jesus had a depth of personality that revealed real love for women and men.

Jesus Christ has become all things to all races and all people, the reflection of our faces, the image of ourselves, and rightly so. But to all, He is the Son of God who became flesh and lived among us. He’s the glory of the Father, the second Person of the Trinity, the One who ever lives to intercede for those who will believe in Him.

How do you picture Jesus? Maybe you have gotten your impression second or third-hand. Maybe you have never taken the time to develop your very own profile by turning the pages of Scripture, one at a time. Since Christ is alive, you can meet Him just as have countless millions. You will learn that to know Him is to love Him. AMEN.