Fourth Sunday Ordinary Time
January 29, 2023 •
You know the old saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. An image, a picture, is able to say so much . . . when this image is an image of Jesus Christ - a holy image of Jesus Christ, or the Stations of the Cross, or the Crucifix, the Word of God - in essence, it's like reading the Bible. It's like reading the Gospel stories. There's no greater mediation that you can do.
Having holy images and utilizing them is so important, so helpful in the Christian life. We can close our eyes and see that image in our mind. It brings us to a holy reflection on the love of Christ Jesus, on the suffering He went through to save us from sin. It can be very beneficial for you, for your children in your home. . . .
Having an image of Jesus is not breaking any commandment or teaching. In the Old Testament, God gave this law to His people: you are not to have graven images. Now, a "graven" image is an engraved or carved or sculpted image. A lot of Christians have thought that means you can't have any images, any pictures of anything. But if you look back through the history of the Jewish people, they had images of everything. If you went into the Temple , into the Hours of God, the walls were covered with images. Some of natural things: trees, animals, grass. Sun and stars and moon. And of angels. Gilded angels surrounding the immersion walls of the Temple. The images they were forbidden to have were images of God. . . . It's not just any image that's forbidden. It's an image of the Creator. . . .
We have this deep desire to have images of those whom we love because those images call to mind that love. They lead us to reflect upon the relationship. . . . The reason there are so many graven images in pagan religions is that humans want to know what God looks like. But our Lord told the Jews: you are not to create an image of Me. Obviously the Jews wanted to be able to see the face of god. That's even in the Beatitudes we read today: Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God.
We want to see Him. We want to be able to behold Him. It's a natural desire So why would God deny the Israelites this desire?
It's because he always intended to give them His image. Jesus Christ is the image of the Father. Jesus is the image of God. When we see Him, we see God. . . .
But the beautiful gift is that God is so much like us. He looks like us. He walks like us. He talks like us, because we are made in His image and likeness.
Zep 2:3, 3:12-13; Ps 146:6-10; 1 Cor 1:26-31; Mt 5:1-12a
Homily begins at 15:28