“Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face (στόμα πρὸς στόμα, mouth to mouth), that our joy may be full.” (2 Jn 1: 12)

In the first century, the Holy Apostle John is not entirely happy about communicating with his flock just “with paper and ink.” The “joy” he takes in communicating with his people will only be “full,” when he comes and speaks to them “face to face” (or “mouth to mouth,” as it says in the Greek). Why? Because encountering other human beings in their entirety, which includes their physicality, created in the image and likeness of God, is always a revelation of God Himself. A human being is a “living icon” of God, particularly in the light of the Incarnation; in the sharing of our humanity of God’s only-begotten Son. So, when we meet “face to face” with others, particularly (but not only) with those others who have communion with Christ, our “joy” of not being alone, but sharing in the larger picture of a God-created and God-divinized humanity, is made “full.”

In our time, when I might communicate via text-message even with someone sitting in a neighboring room, I’m grateful for this reminder, that encountering, and speaking with, other human beings “face to face” is a “joy” I should seek out, and of which I should not deprive myself. I should also point out, in the context of this Scripture-passage, that I should seek out the opportunity to encounter my church-hierarchs “face to face,” rather than just read about what they are saying or doing, online. Because the larger picture of any person’s, or any hierarch’s, God-created humanity, is not revealed to me just in their statements and actions. “Let us love one another,” and encounter one another, face to face, “that we may with oneness of mind confess Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Amen!

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