Text: Matthew 25:31-46
Oh, to see the face of Jesus! There are many, no doubt, who through the ages have imagined what it would be like to behold the face of the Anointed One, the child of Bethlehem, the One who sits at God’s right hand. No doubt our surprised brothers and sisters in this parable from Matthew’s gospel would have loved to have have encountered Jesus – to have seen his face. Afterall, it might make sense to long for the face of Jesus when the faces we see around us sometimes make us uncomfortable. It’s hard to know just how to react to a face filled with fear, or with hunger, or with doubt. It’s difficult to know just what to say to someone whose face is responding to unpleasant news, or whose face is broken from violence.
Oh, to see the face of Jesus! We would adore him. We would love him. We would show him the gratitude that wells up within us. We would do whatever he asked, whatever he needed. We’re just sure of it. That’s what our faith is about, right?
Oh, to see the face of Jesus! There is no need to wait! Jesus’ face stares back at us in the market, looks deeply into our souls from behind eyes that hunger and thirst, and perceives us keenly as we wait at the clinic. The faces of the stigmatized, the outcast, the forgotten – these are the faces of Jesus. The faces of mothers trying to feed their children, brothers and sisters taking their ARVs, grandmothers and grandfathers caring for orphaned children, and the faces of those very children – these are the faces of Jesus! They are our faces.
Through his ministry and in this parable Jesus gives us a gift and a vision. Jesus gifts us with an awareness of the divine presence all around us in people who need our friendship, love, and help. He offers us a vision of a world in which we encounter him – the one we call Christ – through each and every tender human encounter of compassion. And where else would we have expected to see the face of Jesus, indeed his whole body, but in the midst of brokeness, where, through the power of grace, healing takes place? Look closely at the beautiful faces that need your love. They are the faces of Jesus, each and every one.