Thursday, 15 June 2017

How the gods of this world blind

Today at mass we heard a passage from St Paul's (2nd) letter to the Corinthians.  I must admit I had never really reflected on this passage, but as I listened, the image of the Sacred Heart icon came to mind.  The reading:

2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1,3-6

Even today, whenever Moses is read, the veil is over their minds. It will not be removed until they turn to the Lord. Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit.
Since we have by an act of mercy been entrusted with this work of administration, there is no weakening on our part. If our gospel does not penetrate the veil, then the veil is on those who are not on the way to salvation; the unbelievers whose minds the god of this world has blinded, to stop them seeing the light shed by the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For it is not ourselves that we are preaching, but Christ Jesus as the Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ.

By referring to Moses and the way in which he would veil his face  when he spoke to the people, Paul  is telling us that it is only when we believe in Jesus that we can see the image of God.  The old covenant was written on stone, the new covenant in Jesus is written in our hearts by the Spirit of God.  But, the 'god' of this world can blind us to seeing the truth.  Instead of our hearts being open to the Spirit that came on Pentecost to the apostles, they remain hard and closed.  The gods of this world have indeed blinded so many.  Just pick  up a newspaper or watch TV and there you can see the consequences of this blinding process.  The world grows darker and darker the more  it rejects and persecutes those who seek to witness to the Good News.  And we see in the faces of those who hate and despise Jesus all the deadly sins that are consuming the world.  We can only pray and hope that the gospel will penetrate the veils of those who 'are not on the way to salvation'.

But, of course, because we believe that Jesus is the icon of the living God we have hope that one day we will all be transformed into the image of Christ. Later he says:

2 Corinthians 4:7-15 

We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 
But as we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God. 

The  unveiled image of God in the face of Christ is therefore our hope.  Whilst the gods of this world blind, the image of the unseen God, from whose  wounded heart the Holy Spirit poured into this world, gives us light to illuminate the darkness.  And, of course, just as Moses's face reflected the light of God, we in our turn are called in all humility to reflect the light and love of Christ - the Alpha and Omega.

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