He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for inhim all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-23)
If seeing is believing, then how do we believe in what we do not see. This is a common human problem, for sometimes we see what we think we are supposed to see, not everything that is really there. We see bad news in the paper or on TV and fail to see that there is plenty of good that co-exists along with the bad. Furthermore, our complex and advanced sense of sight is one thing that sets us apart from other species. To see is to be human. But our minds and spirits can become conditioned to seeing with only partial vision.
Jesus had a way of seeing beyond the visible. When he was before the crowds, he was moved with compassion, because they were “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:35-38). There was a man crippled for 38 years who could get to the healing waters of Beth-zatha (John 5). Jesus’ pointed question demonstrated that he saw beyond the need for physical healing, but that the man had given up hope. It would be too easy to pass this off as a Messianic power. Yet everyday, ordinary people look into other ordinary people’s eyes and proclaim hope. They do so with words, with gestures, with gifts, with reliability and trustworthiness. They do so in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, orphanages, homes, churches, etc. It is called compassion: what the psychologists call empathy. This is not like Superman’s x-ray vision. It is more akin to reading a person’s circumstance, recognizing both pain and hope and responding with love.
Jesus put on flesh so that we can see what God is doing every second of every day. “We have seen his glory!” John 1 proclaims.
Now, 2000 years later, we still struggle to see what God is doing. That does NOT mean that God has stop working. The problem is still the same: our poor vision. Into this conundrum, God still calls to flesh a visible representation of himself on earth: The Church. May we live up to the challenge.
Image: Church in Oia, Santorini (Greece) by MarcelGermain