“Seek His Face” is the episcopal motto of our own Bishop Joensen. Just one year ago we celebrated his ordination and installation on September 27th 2019. With packed pews at the biggest church in the diocese, that Mass was a joyful celebration hardly imaginable now in the era of COVID – 19. Today we pray and wait in hope for the time when we can gather like that again.
In his remarks at that Mass, Bishop Joensen reflected on the image of a wedding. He said, “We all want someone, someones, for whom we will give our love and lay down our lives [. . .] Now I know, for God willing, the next 16—er, 17 years?—how I am going to die—espoused to this Diocese, laying myself down as God permits.” I was struck then, as I am struck now, by this beautiful embodiment of Jesus as Bridegroom. And of course we, the Church, are the bride. So Happy Anniversary, sisters! I think a little cake is in order, don’t you?
A dear friend celebrating her third wedding anniversary recently remarked to me that statistically the first few years of marriage are some of the most difficult. Certainly this first year for our new Bishop has been more than a little turbulent, and the end to this storm is not yet in sight. I have taken great comfort lately in praying for our Bishop with Psalm 27. Today I invite you to join me in praying this psalm for the strength, perseverance, and heart of our Bishop William Joensen. In particular, I invite you to reflect on the words of his motto as an invitation to all of us to take up this charge to seek the face of God.
The House of the Lord
So what does it mean to “Seek His Face”? Of course, our first movement is towards the sacraments, which strengthen us and make the Lord present to us in a particular way. This is most especially true in the Eucharist, the sacrament of His Body and Blood. Insofar as we are able, let us all run to the table of the Lord to behold and to receive Him there.
Still, our mission does not cease at the altar. It begins there. We are sent forth to bear the one we have received into the world. In this time when so many have been away from the sacraments it is all the more important that we who are blessed to receive Him walk out those doors like a living monstrance, radiating the love of Christ to the world.
Seek His Face
This mission becomes yet another way to seek the face of God. We know that from the beginning every human person is created in the image of God. But when we look at one another in our day to day lives do we really expect to find him there? How fervently do we seek the face of Christ in neighbor, stranger, friend, and even foe?
What would it look like to seek, and to expect to encounter Christ even in our enemies? And what if, failing to find Him, we beat our breasts and cried out to God, “Do not hide your face from me!” In our current political and social climate this is a daunting task, and a worthy endeavor. When we cannot see the face of Christ in another, this is an urgent call to lift that person in prayer to the Lord, that His image might be restored in them.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotations from Mother Teresa, a woman who spent her life seeking and finding Jesus in the most unexpected places.
“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!