The word of the day is “veil.” The Son of God came down from heaven to bring “light to those who sit in darkness” (OSB Luke 1:79). For that reason, the Lord Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). And in today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, Paul declares, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (OSB vs. 6).
Why the Light of Christ Does Not Give Everyone Spiritual Sight
So why doesn’t everyone gain spiritual sight by the Light of Christ? When the sun rises, we cannot help but see by the brightness of the day. Christ is the “Dayspring from on High” (OSB Luke 1:78), that is, the “Rising Sun from Heaven” (NIV Luke 1:78). But some still live in the darkness of night.
In today’s reading, Paul turns to the Old Testament for an explanation. The key is the veil covering Moses’ face when he came down from Mt. Sinai. When Moses delivered the Law to the Israelites, his face was so “glorified” that the people were afraid to look at him (Exodus 34:29-30). So, Moses put a veil over his face so that the dazzling brightness would not blind them.
A Hazy View of God or Seeing Through Faith
Paul says that the veil represents the cover over the minds of all who read the Hebrew scriptures before the Son of God’s appearance. Before Christ came, the Chosen People had only a hazy view of God as if looking through a screen. But now, Christ has removed this covering. By faith, believers see in Christ the full disclosure of the revelation of God.
But what of those who do not believe? St. Paul answers, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (vs. 4). In the previous chapter, Paul explains that the minds of unbelievers were made dull. He explains that whenever the “old covenant” is read, the veil is still there. The cover is removed only in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:14). Therefore, “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:16).
How then are the minds of unbelievers made dull and their sight unresponsive to the Light of Christ? In our reading, the apostle says that the “god of this world” has blinded those who are lost lest the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (OSB vs. 4).
Unbelief is the result of making wealth, honor, power, pleasure of this world one’s “god.” And so, the eyesight of one’s mind and the vision of one’s heart are darkened. One cannot see the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (vs. 4), the brightness of His [God’s] glory, and the express image of His [God’s] person” (Hebrews 1:3; see also Colossians 1:15).
This reading compels us to come to terms with our “little idols.” Perhaps we do not openly worship a “big god.” We do not make the “god of this world” the center and purpose of our lives. But while we worship God the Holy Trinity, we might still pay lesser homage to the “little gods” of success, reputation, comfort, entertainment, etc.
The “god of this world” blinds its followers to the Glory of God in Christ. But the “little” gods also weaken our spiritual sight. To the extent that we nurture these “little idolatries” in our hearts, we do not have a clear vision of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
Do we want to see Christ more clearly so that we might follow Him more closely and live with him more faithfully? Then we should throw out whatever “little gods” still reside in our hearts. We should get rid of these “little veils” that we might plainly see “the light of the Glory of God in the face of Christ” (vs. 6).