For many days now we have heard about masks, the need of PPE for professionals in hospitals and care homes as well as for ordinary people on the street.
In many tribal religions a man could be transformed a deity by wearing his ceremonial mask.
Greek actors wore masks to identify their character and their mood.
Sermons have reminded me that the Greek term for mask is ‘persona’ and that the word ‘hypocrite’ comes from the Greek for an actor performing in a play.
My first recollection of a masked man was the Lone Ranger, John Reid, who wears a black mask to conceal his identity. Together with the Native American Indian, Tonto, who saved his life, he spends his life pursuing truth and justice – and outlaws.
In more recent years there has been Batman, Bruce Wayne. His mask also hides his identity, but transforms him into a superhero who strikes fear in criminals and instils hope in ordinary citizens, inspiring them to be proactive in similar heroic deeds.
In The Phantom of the Opera, Erik, wears a mask to cover the deformity of his face and make his appearance more acceptable. Christine fully realises his ugliness, but she still loves him, showing compassion and admiration.
Sometimes we live behind masks that protect us by hiding our deepest hurts, darkest thoughts and painful emotions.
By deliberately wearing masks John, Bruce, Erik and NHS workers accept their vulnerability. Yet masks also enable ordinary people to be heroic and a symbol of hope, compassion and justice. Perhaps these masks transform them all to be superheroes.
St. Paul calls us to put on such a transforming mask: ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…And over all these virtues put on love…’
Ref: Colossians 3:12-14