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Saying #5 in Gospel of Thomas :  How To Do More Than Wear a Face Mask

by Shirley Paulson, PhD

Woman Wearing a Face Mask

There’s a Saying in the Gospel of Thomas that stopped me in my tracks.

More and more people in my community are wearing face masks when they’re shopping or needing to be in close contact with others outside their homes. So I suppose I’ve become more conscious of what is going on in front of my face that I may not be seeing.

With that in mind, consider with me this Saying (#5) from the Gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said, “Recognize what is right in front of your face, and what is hidden will be revealed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.”

Jesus wasn’t thinking about the spread of Covid-19, and probably not even any kind of virus. But, thinking more broadly about what it could mean, I see how it does offer helpful implications for our global concerns with the coronavirus.

I started to wonder: what else (besides an invisible virus) might be right in front of my face that I may not be noticing?

Am I noticing the pain or joy in someone’s eyes?
Am I aware of the beauty of the spring flowers?
But even closer to my face, am I aware of a divine presence?
Is there a truth about something I don’t want to see?

And then: what does it take to notice these things? Some thoughts:

Silencing self-justification
Active love

Furthermore, do I think there’s a power outside of myself that makes these things become revealed? Is it the work of my own mind? Both? Neither?

Yes, I think the power, or intelligence, that created the universe, including me, is greater than me. (I call it Mother-Father God.) That’s the same source that reveals the beauty of the universe. But I need humility, honesty, and love to make me receptive to seeing it.

What an interesting suggestion – that what is hidden will be revealed! I don’t think Jesus was implying that our eyes would see viruses (although maybe he did).

More importantly, though, if we see more clearly what’s right in front of our faces, we might see our neighbors as blessings instead of curses (spreading disease) to us. We might see solutions to the ripple effects of a pandemic. We might discern the wisdom we need to protect ourselves and others. We would probably discover more patience to give as long as we need to give.

Then there is that last phrase in the Saying:

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.”

Will the virus eventually stop hiding itself from us? Will we find an adequate way of testing? Will we know in advance how to avoid the dangerous contacts? Will we have the wisdom to save our businesses?

For me, the main message in this Saying is that the answer is right here! It’s in front of our faces, and it’s a promise.  Our job is to discern it. And we can do that first by admitting it’s here, and second by agreeing to be receptive to it.

Which brings me to my last question about this: Am I really prepared for everything to be revealed?  Well, I can think of some things I’m not proud of. But those might just be the things that cloud my view of the solutions right before me, too. Solutions to contagious disease, solutions to economic troubles, solutions to personal pain and community pain.

This Saying turns the pandemic on its head. It promises we can see what’s in front of our faces.