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Contemplate the Face of Jesus in His Passion
“There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him; nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity. One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.” (Isaiah 53:2-3)
The sins of humanity against the Face of God are related to the first three commandments: Idolatry, blasphemy, profanation of the Holy Name and of the Holy Day of Sunday.
Mankind has turned from the Face of God and toward idols. We have turned away from the Face of God by blaspheming Him, destroying other human beings made in His image, and using God’s life-giving Name as a curse. We have rejected Him on the one day out of seven that He has given us to rest, and a spend time with Him. Like Jesus’s tormentors in His Passion, humanity has blindfolded Jesus; striking Him, and spitting in His Face; while at the same time, refusing to look upon Him who is the Truth.
While we cannot change the whole of humanity, we can begin with ourselves. God looks at our souls; broken, disfigured, and in various states of decay. When we “turn back to His Face,” the Divine Artist looks on us with love and restores His image in us.
Our Lord revealed the work of reparation, which is devotion to the Holy Face, “the most beautiful work under the sun,” to Sr. Marie St. Pierre, a Carmelite nun. Jesus told her that the image of His Holy Face is like a Divine stamp, which, if applied to souls through prayer, has the power of imprinting anew within them the image of God.
This is Sr. Marie St. Pierre’s beautiful prayer to reproduce the image of God in our souls,
“I salute you! I adore you and I love you, Oh adorable Face of my beloved Jesus, as the noble stamp of the Divinity! Completely surrendering my soul to You, I most humbly beg You to stamp this seal upon us all, so that the image of God may once more be reproduced in our souls. Amen.”
“St. Veronica,” refers to an unknown woman, not mentioned in the Bible, yet immortalized in every Catholic church at the Sixth Station of the Cross, for her act of compassion to Jesus who left the image of His Face on her veil.
Pope St. John Paul II wrote this beautiful meditation on St. Veronica in 2000, the same year in which he dedicated the millennium to the Face of Christ:
“Veronica does not appear in the Gospels. Her name is not mentioned, even though the names of other women who accompanied Jesus do appear.
It is possible, therefore, that the name refers more to what the woman did. In fact, according to tradition, on the road to Calvary a woman pushed her way through the soldiers escorting Jesus and with a veil wiped the sweat and blood from the Lord’s face. That face remained imprinted on the veil, a faithful reflection, a “true icon”. This would be the reason for the name Veronica.
If this is so, the name which evokes the memory of what this woman did carries with it the deepest truth about her.
One day, Jesus drew the criticism of onlookers when he defended a sinful woman who had poured perfumed oil on his feet and dried them with her hair. To those who objected, he replied: “Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me . . . In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial” (Mt 26:10, 12). These words could likewise be applied to Veronica. Thus we see the profound eloquence of this event.
The Redeemer of the world presents Veronica with an authentic image of his face. The veil upon which the face of Christ remains imprinted becomes a message for us.
In a certain sense it says: This is how every act of goodness, every gesture of true love toward’s one’s neighbor, strengthens the likeness of the Redeemer of the world in the one who acts that way. Acts of love do not pass away. Every act of goodness, of understanding, of service leaves on people’s hearts an indelible imprint and makes us ever more like the One who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). This is what shapes our identity and gives us our true name.”
This is the deep meaning and call to every Christian revealed in the presence of the unknown woman we call “St. Veronica”– each act of charity, every act of compassion will leave the imprint of the Face of Jesus in our souls, transforming us into His own Image.
Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori, from the Sixth Station of the Cross:
My most beloved Jesus, Thy Face was beautiful before, but in this journey it has lost all it’s beauty, and wounds and blood have disfigured it. Alas, my soul also was once beautiful, when it received Thy grace in Baptism; but I have disfigured it by my sins; Thou alone, my Redeemer, can restore it to its former beauty. Do this by Thy Passion, O Jesus.
When we turn to His Face, in prayer, and by acts love and service to our neighbor, He is beautifying and restoring our own souls.
The Shroud of Turin will be displayed via live stream on Holy Saturday: Information here.
Beautiful video also airing on EWTN — from Vaticano — “The Face of God:”
Fr. John Paul Mary, MFVA – homily April 3, 2020