The Veiled Face of Glory

"Holy is the Lord our God" (Psalm 99).

God's presence in the Bible is manifested as light. Creation occurs when God says, "Let there be light." The brooding, shapeless waters of the void suddenly reflect the image of God mirrored on the face of the trackless wastes, and in that moment the divine image is imprinted on Creation. God, Source and Creator of all that is, continues to sustain the world  as the life-giving light within all things.

The encounter between Moses and the Lord in Exodus is an encounter with the pure Light of the divine Being. After each meeting with God, Moses emerges from the tent with his face radiant. The people see this glow and are frightened of so direct a contact with the holiness of God, so Moses wears a veil when he speaks with them. But when he speaks with God, he removes the veil. This dramatic imagery conveys something of the mystery of God's glory, which is what human's experience when in the divine presence.

Many people have had some kind of experience of God that they cannot explain in ordinary terms. It can be as simple as a series of coincidences that seem to point to special care in a time of suffering or trouble.  It can be a jarring sense of transcendence when everything stops and a kind of breakthrough contact occurs that takes us out of the moment. We know after the fact that everything has changed, and we feel uplifted, liberated from some oppressive weight. God is near, and we feel reassured and strengthened. 

The whole idea of the sacraments is that even ordinary reality-- birth, water, food, forgiveness, vocation, crisis and death-- is only the visible surface of an invisible world of spiritual revelation and encounter. God is in all things, and if we are alert and attentive to the divine presence we catch glimpses of grace at work, love capable of working small miracles, hope holding on in times of despair and darkness.  A light shines through, and we know that we are not alone. 

The parable of the treasure and the pearl invite us to look below the surface, to pursue holiness wherever we find it-- in nature, in human relationships, in challenges and opportunities, in all our decisions. We discover that the light of God is the very sustaining substance of our lives and all of creation. We are meant to glow with God's presence, to be light for others, especially in times of darkness and suffering.  Some day the veil will be lifted and we will see what has always been there -- God -- loving us and guiding us to our destiny in glory.