Thursday in Ordinary Time

Consider the Lord and his strength;
 constantly seek his face.
Remember the wonders he has done,
 his miracles, the judgements he spoke.
                                             Psalm 104

.          .          .

‘Constantly seek his face’. Sounds like good advice, but perhaps a bit hard to follow. it is difficult not simply because ‘Practicing the Presence of God’ is a serious spiritual discipline, nor just because sin wreaks havoc sin in our consciousness. It is difficult because God doesn’t tend to show the face of God. Moses’ famous glimpse was of the Lord’s back, not his face.

So seeking the Lord’s face challenges us (me!) in several ways at once. It does require of me an attentiveness that is difficult because of my frail and fallen human nature. I am not as strong as I think I am (thanks to Rich Mullins for pointing that out), and sin gets in the way, to complicate things further. And then there is the elusiveness of the one I seek. Gregory of Nyssa reflects on the Lord’s elusiveness in his homilies on the Song of Songs. Like the lover in the Song, who pursues her beloved until she is certain she’s nearly caught him, fully expecting to find him when she opens the bedchamber door, we grasp for ‘the one whom [our] soul loves’ and fail to catch hold of him. Seeking the Lord’s face means reaching out into the darkness–sometimes through grief or despair–and knowing that what glimpses we get will not disclose it. Like the disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, we find that the Lord is revealed to us for a moment, in the breaking of the bread, and then vanishes from our sight.

Sigh. ‘And you and I quite crestfallen,’ as the Magician says to Lucy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Crestfallen, perhaps, but not without hope: we ‘remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, the judgements he spoke’, and especially the promise that he will be with us always. So seek him we do, and must, in the confidence that although we may not ‘find’ him, he is always already here.

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