Last week I wrote to you of the veil which veils all peoples from the angle of our relationships with one another. This week we need to take a look at it in our relationship with God. This may seem backward, but please remember that I’m not very good at planning ahead (pause for my Mom to stop laughing, then show it to Dad, then proceed). Actually, I did this on purpose (you can discuss that amongst yourselves) because God reveals Himself to us through ordinary means first, and lets us grow in understanding throughout our lives. Just like every 50-year marriage began with a first date, our relationship with God begins with something simple and turns into something words cannot express.
God created us, and wants us to know and love Him in return. This is why God has been a part of our lives, and why He ultimately came to become one of us, so that we could know Him even more deeply. This was necessary because we struggle so much to see the ultimate reality which is just beyond our sight, just beyond the veil. Even those who got to know Jesus Christ didn’t always see who He was, and no one understood what this truly meant for our lives until after the Resurrection. It wasn’t until long after this, people started to realize the depth of God’s Love contained in the Eucharist which Christ left for us, passed down to us today.
It is the same in all our lives. We all know that God loves us, but this looks very different for a 5-year-old and a 75-year-old. The experiences which we need to understand God’s love for us are nearly irreplaceable, and God willingly gives those opportunities to us. When we receive Christ’s Body and Blood for the first time, we know that it is Jesus. When we receive His Body and Blood for the last time, we know it in a much different way. Neither is better than the other, because the depth of knowledge each has is appropriate to each person. Just like we get to know and love another person more and more over time, we know and love God more in the same way.
It takes many glimpses of what is beyond the veil to clearly understand its value. When it comes to the Eucharist, there are many times we can be reminded of this. We keep Christ’s Body reserved in a Tabernacle, which is wrapped in a veil. While the Tabernacle is beautiful, it is covered to show us that there is something beautiful covered from our sight. The veil which covers the beauty of the golden Tabernacle shows us how the bread covers the Beauty of Christ’s Body, His complete gift of Divine Love to us.
When Christ died on the Cross, the Temple Veil in Jerusalem was torn down the middle, because Christ’s sacrifice had forever ensured that He would be accessible to all who believe. When we receive His Body, we participate in that once-for-all Sacrifice which made our connection to God complete. Thus, it may seem strange that the veil still exists, both the metaphor and the symbol we use in our churches. Why isn’t God isn’t simply more knowable in a more obvious way; why do we still have difficulty seeing God? Why would we reinforce this with a symbol of this veil in all our churches?
St. Paul reminds us, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, that we keep the veil on all our hearts, and that only through Christ is the veil taken away. We remind ourselves of this by our symbol of the veil on the Tabernacle that the veil on our hearts remains, and must continually be pulled back by the Love of Christ. Just as we describe someone being closed-off from others as “putting up walls,” we are the ones who keep a veil on our own hearts. So let us remember each time the Tabernacle veil is pulled back and we receive God’s Body that God has pulled back the veil from Himself, and it is our turn to remove the veils from our hearts.