Pope Francis: Jesus of Nazareth has shown us His face

In a message to the Church in Sonsonate, El Salvador, Pope Francis encourages the devotees of a famous image of Jesus of Nazareth to contemplate the face of God.

Mar 29, 2024

The image of Jesus of Nazareth in Sonsonate, El Salvador. (Hermana de Jesús Nazareno de Sonsonate)

By Joseph Tulloch
Pope Francis has sent a message to the faithful of Sonsonate, El Salvador, who are celebrating the 420th anniversary of the arrival in the region of a famous image of Jesus of Nazareth.

The message, addressed to the local Bishop, Constantino Barrera, and all devotees of the image, thanks them "for having made me a part of the commemoration”, and for “allowing me to join in your celebration on this solemn day.”

The Apostolic Nuncio in El Salvador, Archbishop Luigi Roberto Cona, read the message from Pope Francis at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Sonsonate, where thousands of devotees had gathered to accompany the traditional procession of the image through the streets of the town.

The significance of the image
“Even today,” wrote the Pope, “we wait, as did our ancestors more than 400 years ago, to see the image of Jesus the Nazarene appear.”

“But,” he asked, “what do we want to see? A beautiful statue? A precious work of art? The hustle and bustle of the people?”

None of the above, the Pope stressed. Rather, he said, “if we stand at the door of our homes it is to see Jesus come”

Face to face with God
In such encounters with Jesus, Pope Francis wrote, we can, like Moses, “go up into the presence of the Lord and speak with him ‘face to face, as a man speaks to a friend.’”

Despite Moses’ great faith and close relationship with the Lord, however, the Pope noted, the prophet “did not have the opportunity to see his face”, since he lived before the time of Jesus.

“We, on the other hand, can contemplate the divine face and feel his feet walking beside us. This is the promise God gives us when the Nazarene turns his steps to enter our neighbourhood, cross our street and stop at the door of our homes”

Following Jesus
The Pope brought his message to an end by inviting his readers to enter deeply into the upcoming Easter celebrations.  

“How sad it would be,” he said, “if our hearts simply remained passively watching a curious scene, without prostrating ourselves at Jesus' passing, without hearing, like Peter, his invitation to follow him (cf. Jn 21:19). What a pity if we did not understand that it is by clinging to His Cross that we are able to walk with Him, and did not perceive that it is He who bears this yoke so that we may find our rest.”--Vatican News

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