Open the Eyes of Our Heart
It is no secret that I am a huge Star Wars fan. In A New Hope, the wise Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi is teaching the young Luke Skywalker the ways of the Force, a mysterious energy field created by all living things in the Star Wars universe. As part of Luke’s training, Obi-Wan makes him wear a helmet, and Luke is quick to complain that he cannot see with the blast shield down. Obi-Wan responds, “Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.” Once Luke begins trusting his feelings rather than his eyesight, he is able to overcome the challenge.
Likewise, God has to tell Samuel not to rely on his sight when he sends him to anoint his chosen king. When Samuel arrives in Bethlehem, he encounters Eliab, the eldest son of Jesse, and immediately assumes, based on Eliab’s looks, that he is the king he is searching for. God, however, interjects, saying, “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the LORD looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Samuel meets seven other sons of Jesse before finding and anointing the youngest and least likely choice, David.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man blind from birth. Pope Francis walks us through the blind man’s transition from spiritual blindness.
The path of the blind man… is a gradual process that begins with knowing Jesus’ name. He does not know anything else about him. In fact, he says: “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes” (John 9:11). In response to the pressing questions of the doctors of the law he first says that Jesus is a prophet (John 9:17) and then a man close to God (John 9:31). After he is thrown out of the Temple, excluded from society, Jesus finds him again and “opens his eyes” a second time, revealing to him his true identity: “I am the Messiah,” he tells him. At this point, the man who was blind exclaims: “I do believe, Lord!” (John 9:38), and prostrates himself before Jesus.
This is a passage of the Gospel that gives us a glimpse of the drama of the interior blindness of many people. And we glimpse our own interior blindness too because we sometimes have moments of such blindness. …Let us open ourselves to the light of the Lord, he awaits us always in order to enable us to see better, to give us more light, to forgive us. Let us not forget this!
Pope Francis, March 30, 2014
What are the things in our life that make us blind to the needs of others, especially during these uncertain times? Do we spend too much time looking inward thinking about our own desires? Do we spend so much time staring down at a screen that we never look up at the people around us? Do feelings of fear or panic stoked by the media or even our own mind make us want to close our eyes to avoid difficult conversations or situations? Does pride or arrogance blur reality and trick us into thinking that we are immune to certain dangers or that we do not need to rely on helping hands? Do we let anger blind us and cut off opportunities for reconciliation and forgiveness?
Let us, like Luke and Samuel, take that sometimes uncomfortable step of using our feelings, our heart to see, rather than solely our eyes. Only then, after we have taken that step, can we truly embark on a path from spiritual blindness like the man in the Gospel and “live as children of light… [producing] every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:8-9).
As we continue on our very unique 2020 Lenten journey, let us pray that God opens the eyes of our heart so that we can see as He sees.
By Kenneth Caruthers, Director of Communication