This morning the angels sang. Servant of the Lord, Simon, was received into the Church after being doused three times in the Baptismal waters and sealed with Holy Chrism on his head and back, ears, nose, mouth, chest, hands and feet! His silky dark locks were shorn from four sides of his head in the mark of the cross, and a small gold cross was placed around his neck as he rested in the arms of his Godmother.
His father Brandt was cradling him on his shoulder when the service began inside the Church doors. When the soft warm blanket was removed as his father placed him in the arms of Anastasia, his godmother, Simon felt the rush of cold air against his skin and let out a howl to tell us that it was a bit of a shock.
Then he quieted and rested for a while. His godmother kissed him on the head as love began to evoke the meaning of the moment to her, forming bonds in the midst of promises that would last for the rest of eternity. As the exorcism and the long readings continued Simon’s blanket kept falling off and his protests gradually began to compete for attention with the words Fr. David was reading.
His mother and father were standing off to the side, attentive with their whole hearts. And then a revelation occurred. Simon’s mother, Ronica, came over and gently took his hand in hers and looked into his eyes. She smiled, and his face was transformed. He quieted, and ever so briefly, lasting no more than a second, a beautiful smile broke over his face from his mouth to his eyes, changing his whole demeanor in one swoop. It was that uniquely spontaneous smile that only the young infant is capable of, and perhaps a few saints, lasting but for a second and vanishing as another response surfaces in its wake, each visage spontaneous, genuine and without guile.
A second was all it took to change his whole body. Instantly, for a brief moment between mother and son, there was nothing at all wrong in the world. For a shining instant, there was only peace, joy, playful delight, wonder and the total devotion of love. Why? Because the most important face in the whole world was before him and she only had eyes for him and he for her.
As I witnessed that brief exchange of being-together, I knew I had glimpsed Christ in our midst. The miracle of being face-to-face with such love and abandonment of egoism is always an invocation to the Beloved.
For Simon, his mother Ronica’s face was a true icon [vera = “true” and icon = image]. Simon looked upon his mother with the pure heart, with total attention and love that only saints know because they are full of Christ. His vulnerability, innocence and delight evoked the same in his mother whose countenance was transformed by the icon of her infant son whose glance conveyed the love of Christ as well as an image of the Lord’s trust in His own mother’s care.
Face-to-Face. This is the essence of our worship and prayer, the dialogical encounter in which Christ becomes present wherever two or more are gathered intimately free of all judgment. St. Paul said “For now we see in a mirror an enigma, but then, face to face.” (I Cor. 13:12).
When I saw Simon looking at his mother who was looking at her son looking at her, at the invisible moment of their ‘meeting’–the in-between– a third presence was making Himself known to us, just as He does in the breaking of the Bread, when we are again face-to-Face with the One Who is the most important Person for us in all the world and who unites us one with another.
Glimpses and small invisible transfigurations occur whenever we are face-to-Face without guile. Now we know in part, but one day we shall understand more fully, that Christ is ever in our midst. It is because we are fully understood by Him Whose Face looks upon us with joy and humility as from the eyes of an infant and at the same time with the full knowledge and love of God, that in faith, we hope to be fully understood.
Love is the Great Miracle that brings us face to Face with Christ and one another. This is what Adam and Eve lost in the Garden and this is why Christ dwells among us, helping us to regain our freedom to behold Him Whose delight is to make His face to shine upon us so that being in His Image and likeness we shall see him as He is (I Jn. 3:2) and love one another as He loves us.