From 1953 to 2011 the makers of Bazooka bubble gum used a character named Bazooka Joe to help market their product. For over 50 of those years, Joe appeared in comic strips that were included with each individually wrapped piece of gum. Over that time, characters came and went, but Joe’s friend Mort appeared with him throughout the entire run. As the Covid-19 pandemic has many of us wearing face masks in public and debate rages about whether using a mask should be mandatory, Mort took that precaution since his first appearance some 67 years ago.
For reasons I don’t remember ever being explained, Mort always wore a red turtleneck sweater with the neck pulled up covering his mouth. As the coronavirus forces so many changes in our daily lives right now, wearing a mask to protect ourselves and others has become commonplace and in some instances mandatory. So it was for me the other day; I wanted to take a gift of some chocolates to a wonderful woman from my church that resides in a senior living facility. Safety precautions due to Covid-19 forbid me from going inside the facility and so we had to exchange the gift at the front door and both had to wear face masks during our brief visit.
As I had to stand 6 feet away unable to hug this wonderful, saintly woman of God, who makes it a point to embrace me EVERY time I see her, I was struck that while I couldn’t see her smile or most of her face because of the mask, I could see her eyes. In fact the social distancing measures we had to employ helped me see the love radiating from her eyes and hear the affection in her voice more than I ever have before. I’m sure she was experiencing the same in my eyes and voice, as we both did all we could to convey our love through our glances and the timber of our speech. Walking back to my car, I was so blessed that we were able to share so much mutual affection with just our tone of voice and the look in our eyes.
I can’t help but wonder if those same feelings weren’t experienced by two well-know women in the bible. In John 8:1-11 we read the story of a woman caught in adultery that was drug through the streets and thrown down at the feet of Jesus. The men accusing her were eager to subject her to the mandated punishment of death by stoning. Christ however, had compassion and in His own unique way, pointed out that the ones judging her were guilty of sins of their own. Finally He asked the woman, “Who is that condemns you?” As she looked up to see no one, she saw deep love and true compassion in the eyes of her Savior, who rescued her from death, and heard Him say “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
Mary Magdalene stood heartbroken in the garden; someone had taken the body of her beloved Lord. As she wept and pled with a gardener asking where he took the corpse, she heard a voice full of love and comfort say, “Mary.” Instantly her heart filled with overwhelming joy as she realized the gardener was her blessed Savior, Jesus. In John 13:35, Christ tells us; “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” Christ calls us to show that love by giving, caring, sharing and showing compassion to everyone even when we’re wearing face masks; after all, the eyes still tell the story.
By Dean Marini