Faces on Faith: Finding the face of God
I was standing in line waiting to purchase a student ticket to a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. On a small television to the left of the ticket counter was a glimpse of a London musical that soon would be coming to the Kennedy Center.
Tickets already were available for that show, but at that time there was very little known in this country about the smash London musical Les Miserables. Nevertheless, I purchased tickets for Le Miz, and thus began my love affair with this epic musical, seeing it some 12 times to date.
What I find so appealing about this musical is that it is impossible to leave the theater without caring, and caring deeply, about the majority of characters in it. Of particular interest is the small, yet important, role of the bishop. (Since I have not seen the film there is no guarantee that the themes I speak about are carried out with the same intensity in the film.) It is the bishop whose singular act of kindness to Jean Valjean turns Jean’s life around, and redirects the trajectory of the entire musical.
The bishop’s role is less about pomp and circumstance and more about the personification of goodness, a goodness which looks beyond externals to discover goodness hiding deep within a person thought by many to be a criminal.
As Catholics we are at the close of the great Christmas season, when we celebrate the uniting of goodness itself to all humanity. That goodness was born into our world, and grew and matured in our world, eventually teaching us how to live our lives, and strengthening us to model our lives after His, the source of all goodness.
We are called like the bishop in Le Miz to look beyond the externals which sometime obscure God’s goodness and love, and we are called to be part of the contagion of goodness which is capable of changing us and our world for the better.
The last words spoken by Jean Valjean in the stage musical Les Miserables aptly suggest what the entire musical is about: “to love another person is to see the face of God.” Let us all be men and women who incarnate goodness to such a degree that others will come to recognize the impact of our God coming into our world. Let us look beyond the externals in life to see the “face of God” shining within each and every human being.