7 Easter

The Rev. Noel Bordador

When I was young, my father would sometimes read bedtime stories to his children. And one of the first stories I could remember is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. My father would read from a book which had Walt Disney pictures of the characters. Frankly, I was not so much impressed by Snow White or her seven little friends. The character that attracted me the most was that of the Evil Queen who had a magic mirror. The Evil Queen was so insecure about her looks; she wanted to be the most beautiful person in the world. And she obsessively looked at the mirror and asked “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” And the mirror usually would say that the Evil Queen was the most beautiful of all, until, of course, Snow White grew up and surpassed the beauty of the Evil Queen. As a child when I saw the picture of the Evil Queen, I thought of her as beautiful, I mean she did not look ugly to me; she probably needed a makeover, maybe new clothes and less make up, but she did not look ugly to me. But the irony was the Evil Queen could not see her own beauty, and she always had to rely on her magic mirror to tell her that she was beautiful.

Have you been in a Fun House Mirror Hall in a carnival?  A Fun House is filled with mirrors; some would make you look very fat, some mirror would make you look very thin, and some mirrors would exaggerate a physical quality, often distorting your own image.  Mirrors could tell the truth or mirrors could lie about us. Well, there are many “mirrors” in society that tell lies about us, and when I say this, I am not talking about mirrors made of glass. Some of these mirrors could be people around us who we consult to measure our own self-worth, or some of these mirrors could simply be the social values and mores we buy into in order to define who we are. The difficulty is when these mirrors tell lie about us. Some tell us that we are nobody unless we make lots of money, or have the right job or education. Some tell us that we are nothing unless we have reached the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Some tell us that we are not worth the time unless we have some political clout or prestige. Some tell us that we are not beautiful unless we look a certain way, unless we have a right skin or hair color or a certain body built, or unless we wear the right clothes and the right brands.

Which mirrors do you consult? What do they say about you? Do they say that you are a beautiful person, or do you come away with a feeling of low self-worth?

The ancient Church Father, Basil of Caesarea, once said, “The human being is an animal who has received the vocation to become God.” “The human being is an animal who has received the vocation to become God. And he says that we know this by looking at none other than Jesus. When God created us, we were created in the image of his Son who is both human and God. Created to be the image of the Son, Basil taught that God himself willed that we  become like the Son in that you and I, each one of us, all of us will all share in the divine life of God. In the Gospel today, we hear the following words of Jesus as he prayed to his Father: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them,”  Our ultimate destiny, our ultimate calling is to be like God and this is accomplished when God dwells within us and likewise, that we rest and dwell in the arms of God. There is no higher or lofty or glorious view of humanity than this: created to be like God.

But the problem is that because of sin, this beautiful image of Jesus that is in us has been distorted. We often forget the beautiful truth, our holy calling, our sacred vocation and our supreme worth. We are often blind to the beauty of the image of God within, and we fail to see the beauty of image of God in others, too. And what we do is rely on other false mirrors that lie about us- telling us that our beauty and worth is tied in with something less than God-  like money, prestige, power, or looks. We then exchange our true beauty, our true glory, we exchange our infinite worth for something less. We measure our true worth and our beauty, we often judge the worth and beauty of others not by the image of God and Christ that is in us, but by other lesser and baser things of life.

Our spiritual journey, then, is about recovering our true image. It is about looking at the true mirror of ourselves. And where can we find this true mirror?

This past Thursday, the Church celebrated the feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus ascends to the heavens to be with his Father and he brings with himself not only his divine self but also his human body and soul. When we look at Jesus gloriously ascending into heaven, bringing with him our human body and our human nature, and sharing in the glorious life of the Father, what we see is a pure and clear mirror of our selves. Despite the ugliness in our lives and in our souls, we- body and soul- will be raised to a new beauty. We shall be clothed with the glory, and the immortality of the Son. We will become like God.

As you go out of this place and go into the world, remember this when you are confronted by people who seek to diminish your worth. Remember this truth when others treat you with disrespect. Remember this when people judge you to be of little worth or to be a nobody. You are beautiful, that you are of infinite worth to God, that you are infinitely loved by God. Likewise, do not forget to treat your neighbor with respect and love for they, too, are God’s beloved, and they too have the same infinite worth that God accords you, they too are beautiful, containing in themselves the seeds of divinity sown in them by the Father, through Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.