‘Those who look to him are radiant’
This reflection is the final part of a series on beauty in which I have reflected on beauty and glory; on the beauty of city and nature; and on the beauty of Christ the eternal Word. Today we turn to the beauty of human beings.
As the media daily reminds us, there is much in human existence that is ugly. But all human beings, however they may appear, are beautiful in some way because they are all made in the image of the God of beauty.
In one of the passages set for today, we read: ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact image of his very being’ (Heb 1.3). Christ, as the supreme bearer of the divine image, radiates pure beauty.
But human beings, because they too are made in God’s image (Gen 1.27), can also radiate that beauty. Indeed, one of today’s Psalms contains the verse cited above, which can be translated ‘Look to him, and be radiant!’. It implies that, the more humans obey this injunction, the more beautiful they become.
Three spiritual writers who have helped me catch a glimpse of the divine beauty radiated by creation (including by human beings), are St Bonaventure, St Irenaeus, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. One of Hopkins’ poems opens with a line that feels so enchanted by the beauty of which it speaks that it deserves the last words of this series: ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God.’
The Revd Dr Peter S Heslam is Director of Faith in Business, and an Assistant Priest at St John’s.