Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The desire to know the face of God is in every man, even the atheists," but this desire is only realized by following Christ, in whom, in the Incarnation, "something unimaginable took place, the journey that began with Abraham is fulfilled. He is the Son, the fullness of all Revelation; the mediator who shows us the face of God. "
And "to proclaim together that Jesus is the Saviour of the world" Benedict XVI asked for incessant prayers for "the great gift" of Christian unity in the forthcoming week, which begins on the 18th of this month.
Previously, in his catechesis, he again reflected on the meaning of Christmas, in a commentary on John's Gospel in which the apostle Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father. The answer of Jesus, "introduces us to the heart of the Church's Christological faith; For the Lord says: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:9).This expression summarizes the novelty of the New Testament, the novelty that appeared in the cave of Bethlehem: God can be seen, he showed his face is visible in Jesus Christ".
The theme of "seeking the face of God" is present throughout the Old Testament, so much so that the Hebrew term "face", occurs no less than 400 times, 100 of which refer to God." The of Jewish religion which the religion forbids all images, "for God can not be depicted," and "can not be reduced to an object," tells us that "God has a face, that is a" you " that He is a "You" that can enter into a relationship", that "He turns to us and hears, sees and speaks to us, makes covenants, He is capable of love. Salvation history is the history of this relationship of God with humanity, of this relationship in which He progressively reveals Himself to man, making Himself and His face known".
In the Old Testament there is a figure connected in a very special way with the theme of the "face of God": Moses, who, in Exodus, we are told "had a close and confidential relationship with God", so much so that he asked the Lord to show him "His glory," and the answer was " I will make all my beauty pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce my name ... But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives ... Here is a place near me ... so that you may see my back; but my face is not to be seen "(vv. 18-23). " On the one hand, then, there is a face to face dialogue, as friends, but on the other there is the impossibility, in this life, of seeing the face of God, which remains hidden; its' vision is limited. The Fathers say this: you can only see my back, which means that you can only follow Christ and see from behind the mystery of God. We can only follow God, seeing his back".
"Something, however, new happens - he continued -with the Incarnation. The search for the face of God receives an incredible sea change, because we can now see this face: it is that of Jesus, the Son of God who became man".
In the end, therefore, the desire to know the face of God "is realised by following Christ: thus we see his back and finally we also see God as a friend, his face in the face of Christ."
For this we must follow him "not only in times of need and when we find space in our daily tasks, but with our very lives." "Our entire existence should be directed to the encounter with Him, to love Him; and, love of neighbour must also have a central place, a love that, in the light of the Crucifix, enables us to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, the weak, the suffering. This is only possible if the true face of Jesus has become familiar to us in listening to His Word, and especially in the mystery of the Eucharist. In the Gospel of St. Luke the passage of the two disciples of Emmaus, who recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread, is significant. For us, the Eucharist is the great school in which we learn to see the face of God, where we enter into an intimate relationship with Him and learn at the same time to turn our gaze to the final moment of history, when He will fill us with the light of His face. On earth we walk towards this fullness, in the joyful expectation for the coming of the Kingdom of God".