September 23, 2016
My friends in Christ,
Aidan wrote yesterday about "those Jesus eyes," a phrase that Fr James Brent used at the Frassati retreat this past weekend. This idea of the gaze of Jesus, the eyes with which He looks at us, stayed with me as I heard today's Mass readings.
Today's readings contrast two modes of seeing, that of man and that of the Lord. Herod, in the gospel passage, keeps "trying to see" Jesus by finding out who it could be that rose. Herod's efforts at seeing continue the echo of the outcry we hear in the first reading from Ecclesiastes: "vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun?" The two meanings of the word "vanity" allow us to see the foolishness of Herod's way of trying to see Jesus. In one sense, vanity is the quality of being without worth, without use. If all things are vanity, it means that all things are useless, worthless, nothing compared to the God who is eternal. On the other hand, vanity is also to have excess pride in your own beauty, appearance, or importance. Herod's efforts to see are born precisely of that vanity and gain no profit for him. They are useless. Herod is more curious in the events and surprised that another could be more powerful than he than he is interested in the person or the truth of who Jesus is. He cannot by his own means see Jesus. His sight is doomed to fail.
In trying to see Jesus, we cannot go searching for explanations like Herod did and expect to come to know Him. We have to first let Him look at us. We need to let Him look at us with those Jesus eyes, those eyes that say "I know that this one is mine." Just His gaze is enough for what His look says to be true. We cannot comprehend it, but also cannot resist it. It draws us in, touching something within us that rearranges us completely. Our whole being starts to yearn for Jesus and we inch (clumsily, for most of us) toward Him. Allowing that gaze to pull us toward the One Who Gazes then gains for us a great profit: the gift of His sight. Our growth in relationship with Jesus makes us able to receive such a gift so that we, too, can look on Him with eyes that say "I know that this one is mine." We can see the divine life within and around us and look at Him knowing that He is ours: our Redeemer, our Savior, our Lover, and our Beloved.
"I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me."
I pray that "those Jesus eyes," through whom we come to know the Triune, Loving God, will bring us everlasting life with Him.