Entries in Incarnation (1)
I'm so old, I watched the original 'Star Trek' when it first came out. And few episodes riveted me, or remain with me, as much as "Is There No Truth in Beauty?" The plot centered on an alien ambassador, Kollos, who was profoundly intelligent and benign, but whose appearance drove men mad with terror; he was transported inside an ark of sorts by a lovely blind telepath onto the Enterprise. Spock (being Vulcan) can look upon Kollos using a protective visor—but when he forgets to put it on and sees the Medusan face-to-face, all hell breaks loose. (Highlights below.)
This story haunted me, and not just for the delicious terror of gazing on the forbidden. At one point, Spock (with visor) mind-melds with the formless Kollos, and delivers an astonishing speech to the gaping crewmen on the bridge. It permanently impressed me, at age 11, with a profound sense of how bodies can separate as well as unite us. Thanks to fandom and the Web, I looked it up, and it still knocks me out:
"How compact your bodies are. And what a variety of senses you have. This thing you call... language though - most remarkable. You depend on it, for so very much. But is any one of you really its master? But most of all, the aloneness. You are so alone. You live out your lives in this... shell of flesh. Self-contained. Separate. How lonely you are. How terribly lonely."
As a Catholic schoolgirl, I don't think I ever made a connection to the Old Testament God, the One who appears to Moses as a burning bush.
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:5-6)
Nor do I remember thinking of Kollos' observations as a way to imagine how Christ might have experienced His Incarnation.
But I do now, which proves either (a) that Star Trek is awesome no matter how much people may sneer, or (b) in 50 years, this as good I've gotten at theology.
Anyway, back to the Holy Face, the face of Jesus, my Lenten "theme"...what a change from Old Testament to New. We go from a God too beautiful and terrible to look upon, to a God with a human face. And body. For us, infinite consolation and fellowship. For Him, suffering and isolation...along with friendship, joy, anger, pity, all the things we feel. He felt the sun and rain of Galilee on that Face. His mother gazed down on it, his friends recognized and loved it. They looked on it in the dull stillness of death and then, most mysteriously of all, in Resurrection. And then He and the Face were gone.
And now the Face is hidden again, inside one another, where it can still be hard to look without a visor.