The Face Of God

“You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me.” (Psalm 27:8)

The Psalms are replete with references to the vision of God’s face. The soul suffers when God hides his face, but is favoured and consoled when God shows His face. Indeed, only those will prosper upon whom God’s face shines: “There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” (Psalm 4:6)

But only the righteous are granted to behold the light of God’s face: “For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” (Psalm 11:7)

Initially, we may take the Psalms as speaking figuratively, for who is able to behold the glory of the face of God? Indeed, Saint Paul testified that God “alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” (1Timothy 6:16).

It is impossible for human nature to contemplate the face of God, for the light of His glory is too strong for our poor vision, much in the same way as the light of the sun is too bright for our eyes.

By way of confirmation, the Lord had said to Moses that it were impossible for a mere mortal to contemplate the face of God: “You cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20).

And yet the Lord encourages the soul, “Seek my face.” (Psalm 27:8)

Evidently, there is a progression in the spiritual life of the soul which would lead the soul, in the fulness of time, to the open contemplation of the face of God in all His glory.

Jesus confirms this possibility: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

As God-made-man, Jesus Christ has reconciled two opposites: the weakness of sinful man and the glory of God’s face. He raises our eyes in faith to contemplate God, and He modulates the light of God’s glory to our poor sight.

The only begotten Son of God was clothed in human nature in order to accomodate the light of God’s glory to our poor vision so that, believing in Him, we may begin to rise to the knowledge of God by degrees, and finally come to behold the glorious face of God.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

This is the work of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, who proclaimed, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

Indeed, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath [revealed] him.” (John 1:18)

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