Second Michaelmas Sunday
Do we seriously imagine that spiritual beings have a countenance like we do? Feet? Hands?
Countless artistic portrayals of angels and devils show them with these most human of attributes. They look at us with faces like ours, they stride through the heavens and the earth with feet like ours. They battle each other using hands like ours. Even their weapons strongly resemble human tools of war.
We might say: serious religious practice calls upon us to rise above such purely outward appearances.
And yet . . .
Christ took on completely human form in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, permeating the human body with cosmic life, light and love right down to the last fiber. His countenance shone with heavenly light on the earthiest of beings he encountered: many were transformed. His feet led him north, south, east & west in Israel: many followed him . . . and were transformed. He lifted his hands in prayer, in blessing but also in hefty discourse with the powers that be. Heavenly powers streamed through him into the earthly world, transforming and re-enlivening.
Christ would have lived in vain, however, if we do not turn our countenance towards our world with compassion, forgiveness, love. When our feet follow His path, He wants to walk with us. When our hands lift the tools of peace, whether in prayer or worldly deeds, He wants to lift His hands with us.
Artists have not portrayed spiritual beings in vain as long as we contemplate these works with the eyes of our souls. With patience and dedication our souls can behold & transform outer images into living inner images that strengthen & inspire us. Our countenance can then shine forth into the world, our feet can carry us firmly into the future, our hands can begin to create a world into times to come. Yea, so be it.