Tuesday, March 3, 2020
There’s a beautiful line in the psalm today that I haven’t noticed before: “Look to him that you may be radiant with joy / and your faces may not blush with shame.” I like that. It’s nicely balanced. It’s almost a kind of pun.
My wife is a redhead and she blushes easily, and I blush easily, too. The blood just rises up into my face when I’m angry or embarrassed. I can feel it happening, and everyone can see it.
What the psalm tells me is that my face should be glowing with joy. My face should be turned towards God, reflecting his light.
We all know a few people like this, people with faces that seem to shine, who seem to radiate something healthy and good. They’re persuasive not because of what they say but because of who they are. We all know people, many more people, with faces full of worry or anger or shame. People with drawn faces. Tight faces. Or I think of my students, who are good kids but who after growing up with smart phones don’t have the same expressions I’m used to, don’t have faces I know how to read anymore. When they’re not looking down, their faces are often blank.
This Lent let’s look at ourselves in the mirror, and if we can’t see that joy, let’s reflect on why not. Let’s connect again with our only true source. And when we do, let’s show it. Why are we such “sourpusses?” as Pope Francis asks. We’re at mass–we’re in the presence of the Eucharist—Christ is giving himself to us!
Think of the difference it makes when someone smiles at us. It lifts us.
At one point in the Paradiso, as Dante and Beatrice are flying up into the light of heaven, Beatrice even has to turn away from Dante, her smile is so radiant. If Dante saw it, he’d be burned to ash.
It all depends on what we’re looking at. That’s what our faces reflect.
Are we looking at God—at what’s healthy and right and good?
If we’re not, what are we looking at? What have allowed to capture our gaze?