Image and Likeness


Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension:

…so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one…I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.
When I was a kid – like age 3 or 4 – I lived with my grandparents. Grandma had a gold hand mirror that hung on the wall in the bathroom. I loved to play with this mirror: I would lay it on the floor (it was about 2 times the size of my head at that point so it seemed “yuge”) and I would position myself so I could not see myself in the mirror. Then I would look through the looking glass at the living room around me. This could go on for quite a long time as I tried to imagine what it was like in there. The other room was a perfect reflection of the one I was in but it somehow seemed more real. Additionally, unlike the room I was in, this room was viewed through a sort of telescope whereby eyes could focus on one thing without having to look at the rest of the room – which was “off screen” at that point. By adjusting the location of my head and the distance to the mirror I could zoom in on one thing on the knickknack shelves, or look at one part of the ceiling. Viewed through the mirror on the floor the mirrors on the walls became doubly magic portals and I strained to see what was in them.

These two rooms, reflecting each the other… one real, one equally real but in another sense…

This is God and Humanity viewing each other. The analogy breaks down because our side of the looking glass, intended to be the perfect reflection, is filled with sin and corruption. Our reflection is imperfect, broken, disordered. And God gazes with sadness on what has happened. Again, both sides of the glass are real. Humanity is a reflection of God – but we are broken.

The incarnation is God entering our world. He becomes one of us, perfecting the reflection in his flesh. He can now gaze at the Father from human eyes and see infinity. We, becoming members of his body, can also see this. And we become the perfect reflection of God ourselves, maybe not now, maybe not in this lifetime, but we are all walking to heaven and Jesus is the way to heaven and the life we live to get there. Jesus is heaven itself. Even after we sin, we are struggling to return… and that is the path to heaven itself.

The goal of this struggle is to bring us to perfect unity in Christ, and through him, with God the Father. The saints are those folks who have done so while here on earth, whose lives have become the life of Christ lived in the world. They are living in heaven even while on earth and are helping the rest of us do so more and more.

Christ’s ascension shatters the looking glass, uniting the reality and the reflection. Christ is one with us making us one with God. The reflection is restored to a superfluity of perfection by becoming fully realized.

This is the ongoing ascension of us.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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