The transforming Gaze of Jesus….

Below is an excerpt (permitted to be shared) from a book I think I would like to read.  I have long been fascinated by the “gaze” of Jesus, this unseen “Face to face” which we can even now enter into…especially in the Presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The gaze of Jesus rests always upon us, and how He longs for us to us to fix our minds and hearts upon Him, in a mutual gaze of love.

Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy….  Psalm 34:5

divinemercystfaustina

The following is Vinny Flynn’s introduction to his latest book, Mercy’s Gaze: 100 Readings from Scripture and the Diary of St. Faustinapublished by Marian Press:

“O Eternal Love, You command Your Sacred Image to be painted” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1).

So begins the Diary of St. Faustina, written by a simple, uneducated Polish nun, who was destined to become the first saint of the Jubilee Year that ushered in the third Christian millennium.

It seems fitting that her Diary should begin this way, for the painting of Christ as He appeared to her — known now throughout the world as the Divine Mercy Image — reveals to those who look deeply the entire message of mercy that comes from the 600-page Diary.

Why did the Lord appear to her and command that this image be painted? The clue comes in an easily overlooked phrase in Faustina’s dramatic description of this first major revelation recorded in the Diary. The Lord has just appeared to her, dressed in the white robe of the priesthood, with His right hand raised in blessing and His left hand holding His garment open in the area of His Heart, from which gush forth red and pale rays as an endless fountain of mercy. Faustina writes: “I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord” (Diary, 47).

Filled with “awe, but also with great joy,” Faustina says nothing, but simply keeps her gaze fixed on Christ. The Lord doesn’t immediately speak to her either, but only “after a while” tells her to paint His image. He first gives her time to contemplate in her mind and heart what she is seeing with her eyes — to look as Our Lady looked, pondering in her heart deeply so that she could enter more fully into the mystery of Christ’s love, in complete trust and surrender to His will.

Pope John Paul II (now blessed), who referred to St. Faustina as “a sign for our times,” considered this type of contemplative gazing so important that he proclaimed it as the agenda of the Church for the next thousand years. “To contemplate the face of Jesus,” he wrote in his encyclical on the Eucharist, “and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘programme’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 6).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also stresses the importance of this gazing upon the Lord, connecting it with the daily conversion we all need. “The human heart,” it tells us, “is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced” (1432).

How can looking at Jesus convert our hearts? Because when we really look, we also see the Father and come to understand His plan of mercy for all.

Jesus is the “image of the invisible God,” writes St. Paul (Col 1:15). Who’s the “invisible God”? The Father. Jesus Himself makes this clear when He explains to the apostles, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).

According to Pope John Paul II, this is why Jesus came — to show us that God is a Father who is “rich in mercy. … Believing in the crucified Son means ‘seeing the Father'” (Dives in Misericordia, 1, 7).

What’s all this have to do with converting our hearts?

“Conversion to God,” John Paul continues, “always consists in discovering His mercy, … [and] is always the fruit of the ‘rediscovery’ of this Father, who is rich in mercy” (Dives in Misericordia, 13).

So, when we gaze upon Christ as He is represented in this image — not only with our eyes but with our minds and hearts — we “rediscover” the Father. We recognize that it’s His hand raised over us in blessing, His mercy gushing forth from the Heart of Jesus. We come to know who Christ is, who the Father is, and who we are called to be, and we are progressively transformed into living images of mercy.

Christ didn’t command this image to be painted so that we could simply hang it on a wall and glance at it now and then. We are not supposed to just look at this image; we are supposed to become it.

As St. Paul explains, “All of us, gazing with unveiled faces upon the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18).

Saint Faustina’s spiritual director, Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko, in recounting her instructions for the painting of the image, emphasizes that it should be painted in such a way that our gazing upon it also reveals to us the compassionate gaze of Jesus.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) also speaks of this gaze of Christ, explaining that communicating with Christ demands not only that we gaze on Him but also that we “allow him to gaze on us, listen to him, get to know him” (God Is Near Us, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003, p. 97).

This gazing upon Christ — and receiving His gaze — changes us, transforms us, bit-by-bit, healing our hearts and enabling us to entrust our lives to Him. It is this double gazing that I invite you to experience as you read this book. Don’t attempt to consume it quickly, all at once, but sit for a while with each entry. Ponder it to make it your own and allow it to touch your life. Take the time to contemplate the face of Jesus. Get to know Him and listen in your heart to what He wants to say to you today through Sacred Scripture and the Diary of St. Faustina.

Looking upon Jesus in this way and seeing how He looks at you with love, may you come to recognize and embrace the mystery of the Father’s mercy — the love that is greater than all sin, greater than all evil; the love that can reach the darkest corners of the world and heal all our brokenness; the love that we don’t deserve and can’t earn, but that is freely given; the love that can fill us to overflowing, transforming us, like St. Faustina, into living images of mercy for others.

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4 thoughts on “The transforming Gaze of Jesus….

  1. It’s not a coincidence that I happened to be looking at the Lord’s face from a photo of the Shroud of Turin last night before reading this Holy Spirit inspired article. To gaze upon Him even goes beyond seeing His physical face.. it means meditating on Him, His character, His sufferings (and not just His sufferings on the Cross , but His constant trials and what He had to endure since a baby up to His Sacrifice for us). This is how the Lord led the saints and how He wants to draw us. It is the difference between just looking at His face and BEHOLDING His face.
    Even now He still suffers in His Spirit and soul and those who seek to console Him are precious to Him.

    It also means keeping our hearts and souls connected to Him throughout our daily lives- even in our conversations that we are always mindful that He is there with us and He doesn’t want us to compromise with the attitudes of this World or the attitudes of those still living for self even though they may no longer be in the World. We turn our face toward His by degrees through the Holy Spirit.

    Lately the Lord is showing me that I have some double-mindedness in me yet. When I am with the Lord in worship my attention is on Him, but at other times I can have spiritual “attention deficit disorder” and take my eyes off of Him when I get absorbed in hobbies, projects, even my daily 8 hour job. He leads me to not do these things separately from Him, but IN Him- with Him. Not to make any plans that He does not choose for me either.

    During the days of Noah, people were absorbed in marrying, buying, selling, eating, drinking… all innocent things within themselves, but they let these things preoccupy them so that they no longer looked upon God’s face. They no longer sought Him and His Presence morning by morning as king David did. They lost sight of God. This is something that can happen to us too so we must always ask the Lord for His grace to keep us focused on Him and to bring us back when we stray.

    The angels always behold the Father’s face. To see the Lord face to face we can no longer be the same person inside . A transformation and death to the self-life takes place within us as we see how ugly our souls are in contrast to His Inner Beauty. This is why the Isrealites insisted that Moses put a veil over his face when he came down from the mountain after communing with God. Moses didn’t even realize but when He talked with God, God’s Spirit was also on Him, and shone from his face afterwards. To look at Moses’s face, they saw Gods Spirit reflected through his, and they couldn’t bare to look because it would mean they would see the darkness of their own souls. This is why they asked him to put a veil over his face.

    My late pastor always told us that it is soo good to meditate on our Lord- to daily look upon Him Whom we have pierced. To keep our eyes on Him, beholding Him as the angels do. On Earth as in Heaven♥.

  2. Boldylocks, (love that name!), your comment is so rich and beautiful that I cannot imagine what I could say in response, because I agree with all you have written, and I thank you for sharing and giving me so much more to ponder.

    I hope you will come often and share your truly inspired and wise insights.

    God bless you and may you delight always in the Gaze of our Beloved Jesus!

    • Me too, Mary! It sounds beautiful. Speaking of Divine Mercy, Father Gaitley has a CD (LIghthouse Media) which goes into great detail about Pope St. John Paul and the Divine Mercy devotion, and also about his (Fr. Gaitley’s) relationship with Our Lady. I highly recommend it. Found it in the back of church along with many other awesome CD’s. I love playing them in the car. You can also get them through mp3 download at the Lighthouse Media web site. xoxoxo

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