The Shining Gaze (Ps 4:7a; Lk 24:36-80)

by | May 1, 2024 | Formation, Reflections

A favorite verse, Psalm 4, reads: “Lord, let your face shine upon us.” It summons up a very warm and private kind of experience that each of us in our own way can recognize. And that is a time (or even many times) when somebody who loved us let that love come through their eyes, the expression on their face. We feel that from-down-in-the-heart smile, the warm and appreciative gaze, that exclusive and tender attention given to you. It means that somebody has opened his or her best self to you, and that their love is shining through.

That’s what’s happening to these disciples in these scenes after Jesus’ Resurrection. Initially off-putting and upsetting, these encounters with the Risen Jesus warm their insides, open their horizons, and sets them off in a new and hope-filled direction.

As believers, you and I are living under the warmth of much this same gaze. In our Easter faith, we profess that, in His Risen Son, the almighty God has drawn near, and in that Risen Son, Jesus, is shining his loving face upon us.

This is a core truth that, for any number of reasons, needs deepening. Life’s circumstances have a way of dimming the brightness of this gaze. There are things we can do to open ourselves more fully to its glow.

Things like giving more attention to the Scriptures, to these words and stories which for centuries have carried God’s own person and reality to generations of believers. And so: paying extra attention to them, notably as they are proclaimed at Mass each Sunday, but also picking up our bibles during the week to let its words mix in with the events of our everyday living. Discussion groups in many of our parishes aim to do just that.

Another opening to God’s gaze is given each time we come together around the Lord’s table and take part in the happening at the Eucharist. Through this bread and wine, Jesus is once again pouring out his whole Self for our welfare, our lasting benefit. Doing what we can, by way of attention and receptivity, to share more fully in this saving interchange opens us every time to this loving gaze that’s always coming to us.

And there are many other ways to deepen awareness of God’s love shining out, pouring down on us. Doing things that Jesus did is a powerful one: helping the needy, forgiving slights, standing for truth, and working for justice – they all open us to that merciful gaze God is forever bestowing. Vincent hits a similar chord when praising his virtue of zeal: “If Love of God is a fire, zeal is its flame; if love is a sun, zeal is its ray.” (Volume: 12 | Page#: 250),  22 August, 1659 added on 6/28/2011

We return to that entreating psalm: “Lord, let Your face shine upon us.”