"So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, 'For I have seen God face to face, and my life has been delivered'" (Gen. 32:30).
According to legend, when Jesus was on the way out to be crucified, He was met by a woman named Veronica. Doing what she could for Him, she wiped His face with a cloth. It was an act of love. The legend states that something miraculous then happened: the cloth was left with an image of His face.
We are quick to point out that this story is not recorded in the Bible. And it has the sound to our ears of something not true. But could this man-made story still have something to teach us that is in perfect harmony with the Bible's message?
The answer lies in understanding Veronica as a kind of parable. Her cloth is the human heart. Christ wants nothing more than to impress on our hearts the image of His suffering self. For then we will know and believe that He suffered for us. And we can also learn from Veronica how to love all those who are suffering.
Lutherans may not talk much about Veronica, but it almost seems like one of our hymns was written in her memory:
On my heart imprint Your image, Blessed Jesus, King of grace,
That life's riches, cares, and pleasures Never may Your work erase;
Let the clear inscription be: Jesus, crucified for me,
Is my life, my hope's foundation, And my glory and salvation!