A racist character in an old television show was once arguing with someone about whether God was white or black. The racist said that all the pictures showed God to be white, including those by an Italian painter he identified with an ethnic epithet. The other person humorously suggested that the white racist had only been looking at photographic negatives and that God was black.
We know, of course, that God is pure spirit and therefore neither black nor white.
Likewise, artists have depicted our Lord Jesus Christ in countless ways, from a blue-eyed blond to a black man with an Afro to a man with decidedly Chinese features.
We also know, of course, that our Lord, the Savior of all nations, was born of a Jewish woman and therefore with physical characteristics typical of Jewish people.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Our Lady of Guadalupe, when a Mexican peasant had a miraculous vision of the mother of Jesus appearing very much like a Mexican peasant herself.
It was an important moment for the history of the faith in the Americas: a sign and an instrument by which the native people could embrace the Christian faith of the European invaders as something that could be their own.
Today’s celebration is a reminder that God reaches out to all of us, wherever and whoever we are.
In some way, if only deep within our heart of hearts, all of us walk around with visualizations of the Lord and of saints such as our Lord's Blessed Mother. Often, these visualizations are related to idealized visualizations of ourselves and make us feel closer and more connected to God.
Yet, while visualization and imagination may be useful servants of faith, they also have their limitations. Faith therefore must also go deeper: to the reality of God, who works through human history and yet is infinitely and eternally beyond it - God who became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
This holiday season is full of images. Let us use them to draw closer to the One who is "the image of the invisible God" - our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.(adapted from an earlier post)