Why the human face is God’s favorite app

Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

The truly amazing eludes us. It is too large, too encompassing to take in. Not long ago, the phrase “There’s an app for that” would have meant nothing to us. Now we shrug as new applications arrive daily for the portable computer we call our smartphone.

Apps that rely on GPS tracking are changing our patterns of life. We now expect our phone to offer weather forecasts on demand and to inform us of commercial services in the town we are approaching. The dating app Tinder tells you if the people in the photos you have swiped are nearby and if they have expressed any interest in your picture. Uber finds you a car and driver, already in your area.


Too bad there is not an app that tells us when Christ is near and asking something of us. Remember, our Lord has serious expectations of us:

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:20).


Keep in mind that Christ is not chiding the scribes and the Pharisees. Do not reduce them to cardboard hypocrites and villains. They were good people, who strove to be faithful and just. Would that we did the same, worked so relentlessly to make the world a better place.

Yet we probably do. Many of us are exhausted because we do give ourselves over to righteous causes. We have altered how we live because of the environment, because of the poor, because of the needs we see. And our planetary and personal causes align. As the crowd scatters, we are the type that stays to clean up. We are focused on the people who need us most. We are the volunteer our community depends upon. We are raising our children, looking after an aged parent, making ourselves available to a friend who needs us.

Like the scribes and the Pharisees, we give most everything of ourselves that we can. If righteousness is determined by doing what we see must be done, then, truly, we are righteous. We have even learned not to complain. Who will listen? So what does Christ the Lord want of us? How are we to go beyond those dogged scribes and Pharisees?

If only there were an app that alerted us every time that Christ was near, every time that Christ wanted us to let up on our worthwhile labors long enough to look at someone we love.

Remember in the musical “Camelot,” when an exasperated King Arthur does not know what to do for his wife Guinevere? He plaintively asks how to handle a woman.

“There’s a way,” said the wise old man:

The way to handle a woman
Is to love her...simply love her...
Merely love her...love her...love her.

That is what Christ wants of us as we work so hard to serve those whom he has given to us. You see, we naturally focus on what needs to be done. We forget that what matters most to God is a heart clearly choosing to love. Really, if we are not reminded to love those whom we serve, we grow restless and resentful.

Falling in love takes care of itself. Choosing to love requires a pause and a prayer. If only there were an app that alerted us every time that Christ was near, every time that Christ wanted us to let up on our worthwhile labors long enough to look at someone we love.

Sadly, no such app is coming. Why, it would need to draw our attention to most every face we see! Or is that the app God that intended for us to use as an aid, a reminder to stop and to love? The human face.

Readings: Sirach 15: 15-20 1 Corinthians 2: 6-10 Mathew 5: 17-32

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

[Sign up to receive the Word, a weekly newsletter featuring current scripture reflections and material from our archives.]

More: Scripture

The latest from america

A camp in Matamoros, Mexico, for migrants from Central America seeking asylum in the United States. Photo taken on Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
The coronavirus poses a new threat to asylum seekers in detention centers and in crowded camps, writes Kathleen Bonnette of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Kathleen BonnetteApril 01, 2020
In this episode of “Inside the Vatican,” the hosts cover how Pope Francis and other Vatican leaders are making a concerted effort to draw people’s attention to the major ethical questions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Colleen DulleApril 01, 2020
People wait in line for help with unemployment benefits at the One-Stop Career Center on March 17 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Ms. Aguila and her husband are undocumented immigrants, but their children are U.S. citizens. If the children catch the coronavirus, she said, they will have health care. But as far as her husband and herself, Ms. Aguila said their only plan is just to not get sick.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMarch 31, 2020
A medical worker in a protective suit treats a coronavirus patient in an intensive care unit at the Casalpalocco hospital in Rome March 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Guglielmo Mangiapane, Reuters)
“The situation continues to be very, very difficult in the hospitals of northern Italy because of the lack of intensive care units,” Dr. Renata Ghelardi said, reporting that the hospital system in Bergamo “is in a state of collapse.”
Gerard O’ConnellMarch 31, 2020