During COVID, as we hid our faces behind pandemic masks, I have pondered on the power of being able to see each others faces. I think we can all agree masks make it difficult to communicate or feel close to others. But do the masks impact us even more deeply? Can they be a symbol of more? C.S. Lewis' book "Till We have Faces" kept coming to mind, about a young woman who wears a veil until she is transformed by the truth of Christ's love and becomes more beautiful than she ever thought possible.
As we reveal our faces again to the world, we can finally recognize each other as we pass and enjoy each other's smiles again. Our full face "revelations" carry greater significance than just the ability to better communicate. This ability to see each other is a hint of what it will be to see Christ's face. Christ tells us He is the "only begotten" and in the express image of the Father, with brightness and glory (Hebrews 1:3). He told us if we have seen Christ we have seen the Father for their faces look alike. Both are brighter than lightning or the noon-day sun, and radiate rainbow like fire.
And seeing His face is associated with gaining eternal life. The scriptures often note that prophets speak with God “face to face” and thereby know Him (see 40 citations below). Christ invites us in D&C 93:1 to see His face and know that He is. And John teaches knowing Him is eternal life (John 17:3).
C.S. Lewis' books were largely influenced by Emanuel Swedenborg, an Enoch like prophet from the 1700s who said he was given eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to feel beyond the veil. Swedenborg's books point to a restoration of a new church. He also teaches in his book "Heaven and Hell" that angels communicate by showing their faces, and that though our faces here below are genetically inherited but after we die our spiritual faces reflect the virtues we have lived in life, beauty for wisdom and love, ugliness for selfishness and hate, etc. The more virtuous our lives, the more beautiful our faces.
The scriptures are filled with references to seeing Christ face, to know that He is, and enjoy eternal life. Returning to His presence and "seeing His face" is something prophets and prophetesses yearned for, sang about, and taught was possible since Adam and Eve first walked with God. Here are just a few examples:
FACE TO FACE:
1. I have seen God face to face, Gen. 32:30 (Moses 1:2, 11).
2. Lord spake unto Moses face to face, Ex. 33:11 (Moses 1:31).
3. Skin of Moses’ face shone, after speaking with Christ (Ex. 34:29).
4. Lord make his face shine upon thee, (Num. 6:25).
5. Thou Lord art seen face to face, (Num. 14:14).
6. Lord talked with you face to face in the mount, (Deut. 5:4).
7. I will hide my face from them, (Deut. 31:17).
8. Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, Deut. (34:10).
9. seen an angel … face to face, (Judg. 6:22).
10. seek his face continually, 1 Chr. 16:11 (Ps. 105:4; D&C 101:38).
11. If my people … seek my face, (2 Chr. 7:14).
12. Thy face, Lord, will I seek, Ps. 27:8.
13. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant, Ps. 31:16 (119:135).
14. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, Ps. 34:16 (1 Pet. 3:12).
15. man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, Eccl. 8:1.
16. Lord, that hideth his face, Isa. 8:17.
17. your sins have hid his face from you, Isa. 59:2.
18. plead with you face to face, Ezek. 20:35.
19. his face as the appearance of lightning, Dan. 10:6.
20. acknowledge their offence, and seek my face, Hosea 5:15.
21. all faces shall gather blackness, Joel 2:6.
22. hypocrites … disfigure their faces, Matt. 6:16 (3 Ne. 13:16).
23. transfigured … his face did shine as the sun, Matt. 17:2.
24. angels do always behold the face of my Father, Matt. 18:10.
25. go before the face of the Lord, Luke 1:76.
26. they struck him on the face, Luke 22:64.
27. saw his face as it had been the face of an angel, Acts 6:15.
28. now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face, 1 Cor. 13:12.
29. Moses, which put a veil over his face, 2 Cor. 3:13.
30. with open face beholding … glory of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3:18.
31. man beholding his natural face in a glass, James 1:23.
32. they shall see his face, Rev. 22:4.
33. shine … as the faces of angels, Hel. 5:36.
34. wickedness … hid from before my face, 3 Ne. 9:11.
35. I have seen Jesus … face to face, Ether 12:39 (D&C 17:1).
36. sanctify … might behold the face of God, D&C 84:23.
37. face of the Lord shall be unveiled, D&C 88:95.
38. shall see my face and know that I am, D&C 93:1.
39. the Lord … talked with me … face to face, Moses 7:4.
40. Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, Abr. 3:11.
Additionally, DC 88:95-96 teaches that we will be "caught up to meet Him" when Christ unveils His face from Heaven. Seeing Christ's face is knowing Him.It is the act of seeing Christ's face that changes us, lifts us, frees us.
As we might be invited to wear masks again in the coming days, months or years, I similarly invite us to see them as a reminder of what awaits: a glorious revelation of our Brother, Lord, and King, and Him teaching us how to reveal our true selves and our true face, as we obtain a personal restoration and awakening in and through Him. Here is to seeing Christ’s face and gaining beautiful faces of our own as we realize Christ is the answer to every questions - like C.S. Lewis discusses in “Till We Have Faces.”