Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

We all remember those famous words of the queen from Disney’s classic, Snow White. The mirror always told the truth to the queen whether she liked it or not…and, that’s how the saga began. Wouldn’t it be nice this Lent to have a mirror to do the same for us?

We do! Instead of having a genie trapped in a mirror to speak back to us, we have Jesus. Sound a little far-fetched? Blessed John Paul II didn’t think so. He loved to quote, Gaudium et Spes 22:1,

The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. [My emphasis]

Mirrors are meant to reveal ourselves to us. Unfortunately, they only show us what is placed before it. In this case, only our physical appearance. However, I would suggest that by looking at Jesus, He reveals not only the outer-me but who I am per se. The prophet Samuel discovered this when he went looking to anoint a new king of Israel and found none until Jesse’s son David stood before him,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

I have to be honest, what I am suggesting it terrifying. It is one thing to ask ourselves or our friends, “What do you see,” but to ask the living God…that is quite another!

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)

And yet, that is what we are being asked to do this Lent.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

He who is an All-Consuming Fire (Hebrews 12:29) desires to purify us in his crucible of love (Sirach 2:1-10) so that we might be changed from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The prospect of our Lord revealing all our hidden sins and wounds is not comfortable. In fact, St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the introduction of his work, “The Steps of Humility and Pride” states that this is how the Lord imparts to us the gift and virtue of humility: by the bread of sorrow (Psalm 126:2) and the wine of compunction (Psalm 59:5).

Not to fear! St. Bernard also gives us a great deal of consolation by saying,

This first food, then is humility: bitter and medicinal; the second is charity: sweet and soothing…[1]

The first is bitter so that he may clean the wounds of our sin to make way for His wounds of love. The second is that love poured from the cross and the strength to choose Him over all other things (res).

I would invite you to join me this Lent and take a deep look at our Catholic mirror, the crucifix and let our Lord reveal you to yourself. It is frightening. It is painful. It is also the first step to take the Theology of the Body from our head to our heart.

[1] Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, The Steps of Humility and Pride (Cistercian Fathers Series) (Collegeville: Cistercian Pubns, 1989), 31.

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