In these weeks of the Easter season, we have been looking at Jesus Face to Face, in order to get to know him a bit better. Three weeks ago we looked at Jesus’ face and saw mercy. Instead of getting back at his followers for abandoning him in his hour of distress, he recreates them and shows them infinite mercy. Then, with the Emmaus story, we looked into Jesus’ face and saw our playful Saviour, one who is sometimes hidden, yet is always with us. He is with us in moments of loneliness and of fullness. He nourishes us, calling us together as community and feeding us with his very Body and Blood. Last weekend, Deacon Kevin powerfully brought us face to face with Jesus as both Gate and Shepherd. Jesus gets dirty with us, risks his life for us, and protects us, even when we are smelly and lost.
This weekend we come to the clincher: If we come face to face with Jesus, we are coming face to face with God Almighty. That may sound rather normal for us, with almost 2000 years of collective memory that God is Trinity, and that Jesus is God. In Jesus’ day, however, even the thought that a human being—even one as special as Jesus—could actually be God, the Lord of hosts, the all-powerful One, who lives in highest heaven, would have been a huge scandal. God is God, and we are humans. God is not us, and we are not God. But in the man Jesus, the One who was a threat to the religious status quo and to the Roman Empire, we see the Father. We see God. God, the “Rock of Ages” sung about in the old Protestant hymn. The One mentioned as “rock” in 50 verses of the Old Testament is also Jesus, who Peter calls “a living stone” in our Second Reading.
There is a story of a famous rabbi who was dressed rather shabbily, and was on a train going to give a talk in a town in Poland. One man (also on his way to the talk), thinking the rabbi to be a bum, treated him rather rudely. On arriving and meeting the rabbi, he begged forgiveness for the way he treated him on the train. The rabbi responded that he had no power to forgive the gentleman: the forgiveness had to come from a shabbily dressed street person. It seems that our God has chosen to do the same. He comes to us where we least expect him. My hope and prayer is that I may recognize that in all my relations, especially with those on the periphery of society, I come face to face with God.