In Italy there is a tiny village in the Abruzzi Mountains named “Manoppello.” The priests in the church there have a cloth with the face of Jesus printed on it. But no one can explain how the face got onto the cloth because there’s no ink or paint on it. It seems to be made more with light! The cloth is so thin you can see through it. And the face is on both sides in very strong color.
The gentle and kind eyes of the face look at me directly. The mouth is open a little bit as if he is speaking to me. The man has a beard and long hair.
Christians believe that God has a human face like our own and we see that face in the face of Jesus Christ who was born at Bethlehem. Some people believe the face on the Manoppello cloth here is the Holy Face of Jesus on Easter morning. If I look at the picture for awhile it may seem to change and speak to my heart!
And there are other holy faces. We love to see the face of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We have no photographs of her real face, but artists are always trying to paint her picture. Look at how beautiful she is here holding the Little Jesus. The artist is careful to show us her beauty, which comes from the inside – from her heart and mind, so happy about God’s love in her life. The scroll the Baby holds says in Latin, “I am the light of the world.”
And here is the face of Saint Francis, who believed that all people are brothers and sisters – rich and poor, saints and sinners, people in prison, people who are different, people who are not Christians. Francis believed that love wins the day!
And here is a photograph of the face of Saint Bernadette who saw the Virgin Mary in a small cave in France 150 years ago. Mary asked Bernadette to spread the message, “Return, return, return to the love of God!” I can do that!
And then there are the faces of the people in my family – my mom and dad, my grandparents, my brothers and sisters. There are the faces of my friends and the other boys and girls with whom I play and go to school. God asks me to love them all. Sometimes it is hard. But Jesus asks us to begin with love, again and again.
And then there are the faces of people far away. Many of them are poor or sick. Many live where there is trouble – fighting, no food, no clean water, no place to play or learn, terrible sadness. Let’s pray for them every day, and especially at Mass. Let’s ask at home if there’s a way we can help.
Here are two boys who live in Haiti, (hay-tee) which is an island not far from the United States. Find it on your globe. Haiti is a very poor place. The little boy has nothing to wear. The older brother needs a shirt. He’s a good older brother, comforting the little guy whose face seems to be afraid.
A face can say things without even speaking a word, right? What does your face say? Does it say, “I don’t like you, go away” or does it say, “Hello friend!” or “What can I do for you?”
Here is a picture of Father Mariano in Italy. He used to be on TV to talk with people about Jesus! Doesn’t his face say, “Hello, I am SO happy to see you!”
Oh Jesus, make our faces honest and joyful, welcoming and kind, peaceful and bright – like your own! AMEN!