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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Tuesday of the Christmas Season, 03 Jan 2023., Jn 1:29-34

Imagine what it must have been like before modern mirrors were invented? Nowadays, modern mirrors are made of flat glass sheets with a reflective coating made of aluminum and applied on one side.

In 1 Cor 13, St Paul gives us an idea what it was like in former times when people (especially the rich) used silver metal plates as mirrors. In v. 12 of that chapter, he says, “Now we see vaguely as in a mirror; soon we shall see face to face.”

This is a good analogy for what we heard from our first reading from the first epistle of John chapter 2: “What we shall be has not yet been revealed; we know that when it is revealed we shall be like him for we shall see him AS HE IS.”

Paul, as it were, is saying Jesus Christ is not just the image of God. He is also an image of who we are called to be ourselves: sons and daughters of God. His humanity is a reflection of the kind of humanity we are called to live, the humanity the Son of God has embraced and perfected. After all, it was God’s purpose from the start, according to the book of Genesis, to create us humankind in God’s image and likeness.

How do we know that this divine intention is being fulfilled in us? Have you ever looked at a mirror and realized that your face was full of grime or dirt or marks of soot because you handled a blackened pot and then unconsciously wiped your face with it? You did not know because you did not have a mirror. You probably only noticed because people were looking at you in a very strange way.

If you are sensitive, people will sometimes reflect to you what they are seeing on your face. Like they might touch the corner of their mouth to call your attention that you have some ketchup on your lips after biting a burger.

In the same way, when we see people dehumanized, violated, abused or disrespected, we react spontaneously. Sometimes we might even say indignantly, “No, that’s inhuman!” or, “No, you’re not supposed to do that!” You react because you share in the humanity that you feel is being violated. You are just mirroring humanity as it should be, by the way you react. We feel an inner compulsion to protect, defend and preserve the dignity of human beings as human persons.

Jesus himself is often described by the Gospel writers as being moved with compassion, meaning from his very guts, when he saw people suffering, such as when they were sick, or possessed by demons, or rejected or persecuted. He mirrors to us who we really are.

As we come close to the Feast of the Epiphany, our readings will mostly be about Jesus’ true identity being manifested to people, especially his disciples, through his humanity. That is why the writer of the epistle of John has very harsh words to say about people who assert the divinity of Jesus while denying his humanity. How could he mirror God to us in his divinity if he did not at the same time share in our humanity?

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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