Got to page 13 today, and Evely’s That Man Is You is living up to its title’s promise of mistaken identity. After all this Christianity, he says, I don’t know God when I see him.
Evely quotes Saul of Tarsus: “Who are you, Lord?” An embarrassing question. Yet to find the Lord in such a place, at such a time, taking on such a tone, walking in such a skin, is to find also that I don’t know the Lord.
It is comedy. Jacob: Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. Jesus: Surely the Lord is in this face, and you know her not.
It is the path to humility, to resolution, to the last curtain. Eschatology is comedy: Then shall I know even as also I am known. Life is a play inside a play inside a play. But living is dying: stepping out of one playhouse and onto the dark streets of another.
Eternity unfolds in unmaskings. During the play, it makes sense of the past. (The embarrassment of dramatic irony: it was laughter I heard: everyone knew but me.) And I find myself in a role I hate; only faith, that faintest smile, assures me I’m on the right stage. New lines come as the scenes change — or do I improvise? — and I discover my true character.
I am practiced, by the play’s end, in facing my unknown, and I trust that my unmasking will continue.
Saul to Damascus is two unmaskings. Saul doesn’t recognize the Lord, and neither does Ananias:
The Lord said to him, ‘Go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. You will find him at prayer; he has had a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to restore his sight.’ Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have often heard about this man and all the harm he has done your people in Jerusalem. Now he is here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who invoke your name.’ But the Lord replied, ‘You must go, for this man is . . . (Acts 9:11 – 15, REB)
For this man is . . .
It’s the age of masks, the putting down and sorting out by the simplest codes and slurs. It is a tragedy. One hopes for the end, when all will be revealed.
Image: “El sueño de Jacob” by José de Ribera