I'm a Game of Thrones fan. One of the side stories in the wildly popular series involves a mysterious cult led by this figure imbued with power to assume different faces. It seems that his followers eventually exhibit this power, too.
I am reminded of how Jesus himself seems to have this power to be unrecognizable. I get a glimpse of this from the Transfiguration. But after the Resurrection, it seems that this has become a 'regular' feature, starting with the way Mary of Magdala did not recognize him at first. Then there was the story of the Road to Emmaus, with two disciples chatting with him the entire time and not knowing till the last minute. Even Peter and the other disciples did not recognize him while at the shore. His 'identity' had to be 'revealed'. I wonder why this power to assume 'many faces'.
At a very superficial level, perhaps this was to keep him from being discovered by the Jews and taken into custody again. But that speaks of cowardice, and that is not how I know Jesus. Googling this, I encounter this thought: Perhaps Jesus “veiled” His identity so the two disciples would truly think through the things Jesus was saying, rather than accepting the teaching blindly, as they likely would have if they had known it was Jesus.
This explanation appeals to me. And it is consistent with the way Jesus also delivers his messages, i.e. in parables. I have come to believe that our Christian life is meant to be lived in constant reflection of His Word. Just like having many faces that have to be 'peeled off' to reveal the true identity, His Words need to be read and re-read, reviewed and reflected to discover the rich layers of meaning and interpretation. I believe that is how He has designed it to be.
Unfortunately, the many possible interpretations of His Words and His Life would lead to conflicting translations even among the learned. We know of the way some devout Christians interpret His Words to sow even more divisiveness and even hatred. Did He intend this to happen, too?
Reflecting on yesterday's Gospel, it may seem so:
"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division. "
Our differing interpretations can, and will, lead to conflict if we become stuck in just one interpretation and label everything else as false or illogical. Part of my learning here now is that my interpretation can never be the ONLY interpretation of His Words. His Words have many layers, as he can assume many faces. I become argumentative and combative if I hold on to my interpretation and assume it as law. And I use it to justify hate and divisiveness. All of us are students of His Word and His Life. Yes, some may have spent more of their lives in deep study. But even they will not have the monopoly of interpretation. It is in humbly recognizing that 'The Life' of a Christian, is a Journey or 'The Way' of learning the 'The Truth' do I stop myself from being 'holier than thou' and imposing my interpretation on others. We will remain divided, as Jesus predicts, if we choose to hold on too tightly to our interpretations rather than allow ourselves to listen and learn from each other.
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