Can anyone see a Spirit?
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Mt. 11: 27).
Who can see God the Father? Isn’t He just Spirit? Jesus said, “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” (John 1: 18).
“Then Moses said, “Do let me see your glory!” God answered, “I will make all my beauty pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce my name, “Lord.” I will show favors to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives.” (Ex. 33: 18- 20).
A past reflection titled, “ Look! I just saw God face to face.” In it I mentioned, “How may one see God now face to face if their eyes are covered with doubt, pride, or insensitivity to what exists in our world today?” Rhetorically speaking the idea of viewing God face to face can be seen with many thoughts that present our relationship with him in how we live. But this question about seeing him face to face leaves a whole new experience that even his chosen servant Moses was denied.
The real question must be if God is Spirit, how could we mere humans see him, even if he allowed it. Can anyone see a spirit? Would we recognize one if it were possible. What does a spirit look like? How about the Holy Spirit, can we even feel his presence let alone see him?
We know the soul is the essence of the body and the spirit is the life of the soul and body as far as the Holy Spirit is concerned. Then once we die the soul leaves the body and our spirit also leaves. If people from the past can be seen in heaven is our spirit in a form of physical appearance and not in a resurrected body? Or is our spirit alive only while the soul is still here?
However, when Phillip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Phillip?” Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father?” “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe because of the works themselves.” (Jn. 14: 8 - 11).
This could remind us of the quest for man to reach prosperity by building a tower. It may be typical of human endeavor to succeed by exceeding all we already possess. Trying to understand why God will not allow any human to see his face is just one more mystery not ours to enjoy. Jesus came to introduce his Father’s love and mercy, not by exposing a face, which we could never recognize, but through the essence of what and who Love really is. When we arrive in heaven and stand in the beatific vision our surprise of what God looks like will certainly confound us. Beautiful, Peaceful, Completely Serene, but not what we might expect. Remember, Love is God! It is in this attribute that we shall see God!
Then the statement that “no one has seen the Father except the one that came from him” is true but with an understanding that the response to Phillip is also true. Trying to discern the complexity of these statements is not a mystery to dissect but one to accept.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Summer 2020