“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:12
Over the past few days I have been praying and reflecting on the face of Jesus and the intimate, special loving relationship he shared between mother and son, and what that might mean for me in relation to the above verse in Corinthians. I have considered three images, three moments of time within their shared life journey keep forming in my mind.
The first is very Christmassy, as I imagine the young virgin, exhausted after the travail of birth, cradles her new born son in her arms and as she looks into his
face for the first time she places her forehead against his and in the silence of this gentle action, her heart wells up with love for her dear son Jesus. She knows deep inside her heart that she will always love him, always be there for him whenever he calls. This physical gesture is fixed into my own memory in a way that brings forth deep emotion in my belly as I feel the the gentle touch of my babies soft skin against my forehead, and I am assured by the warmth of their sweet breath upon my cheek that they are alive.
The second image I see is represented in the painting Jesus Meets His Mother by Norman Adams within his series of Stations of the Cross. It depicts the frozen moment in time on the road to Calvary when Jesus, bearing his cross, exhausted, battered and in pain, meets his mother Mary. Their foreheads meet and rest one against the other, just as they had done when he was a babe in arms. No words are needed, the physical gesture is enough, Jesus knows that his mother is still there with him, still loving him, still praying for him, not really understanding, but trusting in the darkness of the moment. Heads pressed together their tears flow and mingle. Mary can taste the salty tears and sweat from her sons pierced brow. She loves him with all her heart and calls silently on God to save him. As the kings had told her when they delivered gifts to the stable, a sword will pierce your heart, and at that moment she felt the piercing pain. Yet she remained, she stayed with Jesus until the end, and he loved his mother and gave her to his disciple John – mother, behold your son, John behold your mother.
The third image I see in my prayers (an image I intend to create an art work for myself) began at Easter time after listening to a meditation in my daily readings. After the death of Jesus we can only imagine Mary’s sorrow and the heartache she felt having watched her son murdered. She must have questioned God in her prayers so much at that time, asking why did this happen if your angel told me that my little boy was the saviour of the world. She was a woman of strong faith and so she must have felt that God was still in control, but she did not understand. I imagine she would have cried out to him to give her eyes of faith and hope in the pain and the darkness. In the meditation it suggested that after the resurrection we know that Jesus appeared to many, over 500; we read in the bible of some of these encounters with his disciples. But although not recorded it is very likely that Jesus would have appeared to his mother Mary, quietly, on their own away from the crowds, to assure her that he was alive, that he had risen and that his calling had been accomplished. I have been imagining that meeting; Jesus speaking out his mothers name and as she turns to see him and hold him, their eyes meet again and their foreheads touch and rest one on the other. Again tears flow, but this time they are tears of joy, murmuring praise and thanks to God. Mary’s heart, pierced just three days before, is healed as she knows that God is sovereign and that eternal life is real, for her son who was dead, is now alive.
Take time to sit with these three moments, and place yourself in that of Mary. Image 1:The joy of your first meeting Jesus. Image 2: the knowledge that Jesus knows and understands your deep pain and suffering and is with you. Image 3: the promise that you will meet him face to face in eternity and all will be well. Imagine your forehead resting against the face of Christ in each of these moments and ask God to heal your brokenness, your pierced heart, and to give you hope this Christmas. Create your own image of the final scene.