In today’s gospel Jesus proclaims: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” He announces to those who would hear that God’s reign has started in our hearts. And of course this evening we hear that it isn’t just a message of good news for us listeners, it is also our marching orders. In the canticle we heard St. Peter tell us that Christ “left you an example to have you follow in his footsteps.”
It is up to us to continue the journey of proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand. Our journey, our personal journey, towards Christ necessarily involves those around us, our family, friends as well as the strangers who we pass by. We are the bearers of the good news of salvation. We witness to the heavenly kingdom on earth; we carry the face of Christ with us. In a way, we are modern day Veronicas; by our words and our actions we bear the face of Christ in the love we give.
Veronica was just another person in the society of her time, as we are now. But she fearlessly went against the prevailing authority of that time. She pushed through the crowd and the soldiers to offer what little compassion she could; she allowed love to animate her actions – and I have to wonder – do I? And by this great act of love Jesus gave her an image of His face – an image that she could share with others. And I have to wonder – am I allowing Christ’s image to shine forth?
Blessed John Paul the Great, in his 2000 Way of the Cross meditation on the Sixth Station, (Veronica wipes the face of Jesus) said: “Every act of goodness, of understanding, of service leaves on people’s hearts an indelible imprint and makes us ever more like the One who “emptied himself, taking the form of slave”. Not only does our sharing the face of Christ with those we encounter open them to God’s good news, imprinting on them His likeness – but it helps us as well; it conforms us, more and more, to his likeness; and that in turn enables us to share a better likeness of Christ to those we meet next.
May we all take Veronica’s example to heart and be the imprinted veil that shows Christ to everyone we encounter.