VENEGONO, Italy, APRIL 29, 2004 ( What was Jesus' face like?

To respond to this question, theologian Franco Giulio Brambilla, a professor of Christology and anthropology at the School of Theology of Northern Italy, has written a book entitled "Who Is Jesus? In Search of His Countenance" ("Chi è Gesù? Alla Ricerca del Volto," Qiqajon).

The book helps the reader to discern "the features of the face of the living Lord." In explaining one of his conclusions, Brambilla pointed out that the Gospels "never describe Jesus' face but they do describe his look."

"What face does this look reveal to me? A face that communicates the demanding and inextinguishable love of the Father that bridges the abyss of man's evil and carries him on his shoulders with the freedom and love of the Spirit," the theologian said.

Brambilla based himself primarily on Luke's Gospel, "because he is the finest and most mysterious narrator of the New Testament," and "because he is a disciple of the second hour, as we are -- the men and women of the 21st century -- who have the problem of having accede to Jesus without having known him directly."

"This is why he provides many clues in his text to find him, he responds to our means and desires and leads us by the hand so that we will not get lost," Brambilla said.

The "way in which we seek the Lord is decisive in order to find the Lord we are seeking," the theologian continued. "If I look for a means to obtain an end I will be a clever technician. If I look for direction on the way, I will have a more authentic life."

"This is why Luke's Gospel is intriguing," he said. "We are used to reading it piecemeal, and in this way it loses its force, its narrative plot, its intrigue."

"Instead, the Gospel is written so that the reader will participate in it, so that he will be a protagonist and thus become more of a person; this is the theme of the search," Brambilla said.

Regarding the role of women in Luke's Gospel, he noted that "they express that aspect of the search for Jesus that comes first, that safeguards tenderness, touches the heart, and is able to reveal the unfathomable richness of his face."

"Luke's women are women of the resurrection who look among the dead, in the shining sky of Easter morning, for the one who is no longer there, but who allow themselves to be disoriented before finding Jesus' face as his living face," the theologian continued.

"Women are at the origin of life, that is why they are the first to welcome the new life of the Risen One: They are God's surprises," he said. "This is why Luke's Gospel is full of women, from Mary of Nazareth to the women of Easter; all women throughout history have loved this evangelist who has made them protagonists."