Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2Cor. 3:16
Science and Scripture offer hints that our lives, as well as God’s, are both closely related to the nature of light. The apostle John tells us plainly that “God is light.” (1 Jn 1:5) and that Jesus is “the light that gives light to every person born” (Jn. 1:9). Paul, as well, teaches that “God is immortal and lives in unapproachable light” (1Tim. 6:16). These are to be understood as theological principles much more than poetry.
We too are often described in terms of light. Jesus tells us, for instance, that we are lights set on a hill for all to see (Mt. 5:14). But Scripture also teaches us that the light we have is not our own (2Cor. 3:9). The nature of our relationship to God is more like that of the moon to the sun. God is light and we, made in the image of God, mirror that light. Our light is simply a reflected light.
But there are many ways that we hinder the reflection of God in us. Like a circus mirror, we often distort God’s light in our attempts to manipulate it. We try to harness it to our advantage or to redirect it according to what we wish to highlight or conceal of ourselves. Perhaps we hide ourselves from God’s light as Adam and Eve did. Light, after all, exposes truth and we are not always open to what it might reveal. And so we cover our mirror with fig leaves so that it no longer reflects God’s light as fully as it should.
For many such reasons we find veils over our hearts that diminish the light, and therefore diminish the truth of our lives. And unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do about these veils. Nothing, that is, except come to God for healing. As Paul makes clear, whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is taken away. This is how God restores His image in us.
The spiritual life is a matter of receiving God’s light as fully as possible and reflecting it back to God, like a polished mirror, as purely as possible. No manipulation, no redirection, no smudges, no self-absorption—just a true reflection of who God is in us. This is what Jesus demonstrated at His transfiguration —the light of God, perfectly reflected in human form. Jesus’ transfiguration, in some ways, also foreshadows our own transfiguration
As God’s light shines on us, what does it mean for us to faithfully reflect it? What is required of us in order to do so more fully? The answers to these questions represent the spiritual direction of our own transfiguration. In this, we have opportunity to participate, as Moses did, by simply gazing more fully into God’s face. As we do so, Paul assures us that the veil will become thinner, less opaque. And we will return from such encounters with faces that more fully reflect God’s glory.
If your eye be single, your whole body be full of light.