I can see Christ in my own family and friends. That’s easy enough. I have learned, poorly, to see Him in beggars and in strange people who act oddly in church. I feel like I’m getting the hang of these lessons, though I’m sure I am infinitely deficient and may God have mercy on me. I know that it’s my duty, as a Christian, to honor the presence of Christ in every human being. How do I honor a human being of this variety? Where do I begin?
Where is Christ in this pampered, coddled, violent young man? Where is the Deity hidden in a spoiled brat who raped a woman so hard she bled, and then laughed when he was caught? Where is Christ in his enabling mother? Can I even call her a mother? Should this person who held up her frumpy cardigan sweater to further insulate her rapist spawn, share the same title as the Theotokos who stood helpless and permitted her Son to be voluntarily sacrificed for the sins of His wicked flock? Are they both mothers? Are Brock Turner and Christ both sons? How is the Turner family in their kitschy McMansion called a family, just as Saint Joseph, his chaste wife and foster-Son are called a family? What do I do when the image of Christ is so fragmented by wickedness that all I see is blasphemy?
I am called to love all, to value all, to wish the good for all, to have mercy on all.
Lord, when did I see You?
Every time I see a human being, I know I see a ciborium where You wait, hidden in darkness, to commune with me. Why did You remain hidden in a vessel like that?
What do You want me to do?
When You were sold, You loved the one who sold you. When You were tortured, You loved the ones who tortured you. When they handed You over to the Romans, You loved them and the Romans as well. You loved and forgave them as they nailed you to the tree. And You are God the Lord, incapable of error or injustice. If You love something, You can only love it because it is lovable. If it is lovable, it is just that it be loved. It is an injustice not to love it.I want to be just, as You are just. What should I love, in the temple which has voluntarily desecrated itself? What should I love, in the icon that shrieks blasphemy? What should I love, in the body which bears Your image but does what You have forbidden?
And why should I?
Just because he is a human being?
Does the bare fact that someone was created a human, make that person worthy of love? Not the spoiling, myopic, counterfeit love that flashes the wings of a cardigan, but real unadulterated Love that brings with it justice and mercy both? Love that would gladly hand Himself over to be crucified and descend into the depths of Hell, if there was a chance, even in theory, that the beloved might be healed?
As far as I can tell, it does.
It’s one of those things I have to take on faith, because I can’t see it. But according to my faith, it does.
If we are Christians, we have to reverence every icon that comes across our path. Even the icons who have voluntarily rubbed off as much of the Image as they can, leaving themselves as bleak and ugly as a rich suburban mother in a white cardigan flashing her rapist son.
This is a hard saying, and most days I can’t accept it. I don’t like it.
But the One who sees more clearly than I, commands it, so I accept. In obedience, and in reparation for my sins and the times I have marred my own icon, I accept.
Lord, have mercy.