Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Face of God

                                                Come with me
                                   Where chains will never bind you
All your grief
At last, at last behind you
Lord in Heaven
Look down on him in mercy.

Forgive me all my trespasses
And take me to your glory.

Take my hand
I'll lead you to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God.
"Les Miserables"

These are a couple of lyrics from the Epilogue from the play Les Miserables.  In the story a man was sentenced to many years of hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread in order to feed those who starved.  The punishment far outweighed the crime and Justice chased him for the rest of his life with no mercy.  Desperate and alone, filled with bitterness and hatred for the unjust nature of the system that sought to forever oppress him.  He found himself in a monastery one day and the person who was the head of the monastery gave him a place to sleep and a meal to eat.  

That night he grabbed all he could of value from the monastery and ran off with it into the night.  Apprehended on the road by officers of the peace he was brought back to the monastery, beaten and on the cusp of being sentenced to many more years of hard labor.  The head of the monastery seeing this man broken on the ground, the objects of his crime strewn next to him, had compassion on him.  He lifted the man up and told the officers that he had given the man the silver and gold and in fact in the man's haste to leave had forgotten the best and most precious he had.  

The head of the Monastery could have fulfilled justice by allowing the man to be arrested and his riches brought back to the monastery.  He would have been justified in doing this and most people would probably have agreed with the verdict.  Instead what is glimpsed is this man's example of Christ like love toward a total stranger, who stole from him after he showed him kindness.  He gave him the best he had and encouraged him to not let this act of kindness end with him.  This man who once was in depths of despair and one of the least on earth was given a second chance, and not only that but a way that provided him the ability to accomplish good works for others.

This man changed the life of a young girl by fulfilling a promise to a desperate mother on her death bed.  He saved the lives of others and touched the poor and needy.  He taught by example what it meant to live a life of Christ like service to others.

As the man died in the same monastery where he was given a second chance the mother who he kept his promise to was the one to first meet him, and the man who led the monastery all those years ago was waiting to welcome him into his rest.

This beautiful story, that I left vague on purpose, can probably be played out thousands of times across human history in many different religions and cultural traditions.  It represents the power of Charity and it's ability to affect the lives of many from a single act.  As I pondered this, I realized that the history of the world is filled with stories of people who are trodden down and oppressed. Stories of people who try their best and ultimately to not accomplish their goals. There is certainly never enough love in the world.

I am humbled to be standing on the shoulders of giants both famous and nameless who have worked so hard so that my life today can be better than the trials they had to endure.  What sets these people apart.  They represented the best of humanity because of the love they had for those around them.

The head of the monastery became an example of Christ as he gave the man all he had and refused to condemn him.  Even if you don't believe in Christ all people can recognize the power that comes from love and service.

We ourselves can be examples of Christ.  We become examples as we serve others and love those around us unconditionally.  Not only can they see Christ in our lives, we will also be able to "See the face of God" in their countenances.  Christ truly did suffer and die for us.  He paid the ultimate price in order for us to receive the ultimate gift, which is the foundation of love and service that will continue with us into the eternities.  "To love another person is to see the face of God," and in this I feel is life Celestial.

Thank you everyone who marched in the Pride Parades these past few days.  Not only do you bring me hope and joy.  I know you all touched the lives of thousands as you proclaimed Christ's love for all.  I am grateful to be among so much amazing saints of God.  

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