Who is the holiest person, living or alive, you ever met in person? Describe them. What was (or is) it about them that causes you to see their holiness? Good deeds? Wisdom? A peaceful, joyful, hopeful disposition?
I’m willing to wager you spent little time answering that question by describing their physical appearance. Take just a minute, and call to mind, in vivid detail, this person’s face: their smile, their eyes, their wrinkles perhaps, their hair…
The Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, include a prohibition on making graven images – both so that idol worship could be avoided, and so that an image of God might not be created that limits who God is. Words and images are limiting – as much as they help us explore holiness, they can also confine our image of God and the completeness that God is.
How striking then, that the Old Testament psalm for November 1, All Saints Day, implores God: this is the people that longs to see your face. Even Moses never truly saw God’s face. As Christians of course we believe that God, in the course of time, so that we might have eternal life, became Word incarnate – Jesus, truly God and truly man – God with a face.
On All Saints Day, we remember the Communion of Saints – saints who were, are, and are yet to be – and our own call to sainthood, to holiness. Bring back to mind that holiest person you’ve met, and more specifically their face. When you see that face, do you see the face of God?
Are we able to see holiness – to see Christ’s face, to see a saint’s face – in every person that we meet? What about when we look in the mirror? Let us make our journey to holiness, to sainthood together, all of us created in the image and likeness of God. Lord, this is the people that long to see your face!