“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see the Lord.” (Mt. 5: 8) This Beatitude exhorts and challenges us to strive to see the Lord, in this life and with great hope in the life to come, eternal life.
Of great importance for us to contemplate the Lord with ours eyes, the eyes of our body as well as the eyes of our heart, is to contemplate the eyes of Jesus in Sacred Scripture, most specifically the Gospels.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, in the Spiritual Exercises, states that we should start off our Exercises, our daily meditation by imagining in Spanish, “Imaginar la mirada del Senor”; in English, “To imagine the Face of the Lord.” Included implicitly in this would be of course to imagine the eyes of the Lord peering into our eyes.
Therefore, let us take a pause in our busy day to contemplate the times when Our Lord looked, gazed, peered into the eyes of others and derive abundant fruit from this consideration.
1. The Baby Jesus Birth of Jesus and the Shepherds (Luke 2: 1 – 20). Let us start off with the Infant, the Little Baby Jesus looking up and gazing tenderly and with great love into the eyes of His Mother Mary. Can you imagine the immense love Mother Mary must have experienced! Pope Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter, “The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary”, invites us to follow the eyes of Mary contemplating Jesus from the crib all the way to the cross. The eyes of Jesus and Mary and their Sacred Hearts were at all times in perfect harmony; so should we aspire to be in harmony with them in our own lives.
2. Saint Matthew (Mt. 9: 9-13) Jesus called out to Matthew, the tax collector, and said: “Follow me!” Immediately, Matthew got up and left all to follow Jesus. Then he organized a banquet to thank Jesus for this invitation that would radically change his life. True, the words of Jesus penetrated his heart, but it also must have been the penetrating gaze from the eyes of Jesus that led this Apostle, who had many material possessions, to relinquish everything and capitulate to Jesus’ invitation. With the Word of Jesus and His penetrating and loving gaze, Matthew could not resist. Imagine Jesus looking lovingly at you right now and challenging you, like Matthew, to follow Him!
3. Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10) This little guy hanging from a tree wanted to see Jesus with his own eyes. Being small of stature and pushed aside by the crowd, he knew it would be difficult to almost impossible to see Jesus. Then an idea crossed his mind: “If I climb a tree, I can at least see Jesus as he passes by.” Never could the little guy have imagined that Jesus would look up and gaze at him, then challenge him to come down and dine with him that very night. It was the words of Jesus, but also His loving and penetrating gaze that melted the heart of this tax collector—very much like Matthew, another tax collector. Zacchaeus will give half of his money to the poor, and if he defrauded anyone, he will pay them four times as much. For both Matthew and Zacchaeus, the loving gaze of Jesus and His Friendship were worth more than all the money, gold and possessions in the world.
4. The Eyes Of The Father Of The Prodigal Son Many would agree that the Parable of the Prodigal Son, or if you like, the Merciful Father, (Luke 15: 11-31) is one of the greatest stories ever told. When the father sees his son returning from afar, he runs to meet his wayward son with eyes full of mercy because the heart of the father is full of mercy. Upon their encounter, can you imagine the loving gaze of the father as he welcomes his rebellious son? Artistic masterpieces depict the eyes of the father welling up with tears and those tears running down the cheeks of the father. So too, the eyes of Jesus and the eyes of God the Father radiate mercy toward us—the love of God forgiving the repentant sinner.
5. The Paralytic And The Eyes Of Jesus (Luke 5: 17-26) The friends of the paralytic lowered their disabled friend to Jesus, the Divine Physician, as the thatched roof rained down upon Jesus and all in the house. Jesus fixed His eyes on the paralytic and with great joy told the man that his sins were forgiven. Only then did Jesus tell the man to take up his mat and go home. The eyes of Jesus penetrated to the man’s very soul, discerning and comprehending the sorrow and repentance of this man who was a paralytic of both soul and body. Hence was he healed in both soul and body! The eyes of Jesus perceive the exterior, but also the most inner recesses of the soul. So do the eyes of Jesus see who we are from inside our soul to the exterior of our body, and He is willing to heal us in our sorrow and repentance!
6. The Tears In The Eyes Of Jesus (John 11: 35) Jesus arrives to meet his two friends Mary and Martha grieving over the loss of their brother Lazarus, who was also a dear friend of Jesus. In this circumstance, the Evangelist Saint John expresses a short incident but one of great importance: JESUS WEPT! Let us peer into the eyes of Jesus in this painful event. Contemplate the tears welling up in Jesus’ eyes, streaming down His Sacred Face, and falling to the ground. Jesus’ sorrow is deeply felt, even knowing that His tears and the tears of Martha and Mary will soon be dried up and transformed into joy. For Jesus will summon Lazarus to rise up and come back to life from the tomb. Enter now into the joy of Jesus, Mary and Martha, and Lazarus as the dead man returns to life. We are that dead man when we are in the state of unrepentant mortal sin. What joy in the eyes of Jesus when we exit the tomb of our sins through a good confession and return to a life of grace, sanctifying grace!
7. Jesus Lifts His Eyes To Heaven (Mt 14: 13-21) Before multiplying the loaves and the fishes to feed the hungry crowd, Jesus lifts up His eyes, lifts His gaze to Heaven, and thanks the Heavenly Father. These eyes of Jesus gazing heavenward teach us to raise our eyes to heaven and to have our hearts fixed on the realities of heaven and not those of the earth. Keeping our eyes lifted to Heaven motivates us to renounce the world and all that it has to offer for the heavenly treasures that await us.
8. Jesus Looks Down from the Cross (John 19: 26-27) As the Body of Jesus, now a gaping wound, nears the end of His earthly existence, Jesus gazes down from the cross. He contemplates with loving eyes the two persons whom He loves most and the two who loved Him most: Mary, His Mother, and John, His beloved Disciple. As He gazes down upon them He says: “Woman behold thy son; son behold thy Mother. Then the disciple took her into his home.” With His eyes filled with tears, spittle, sweat and blood, Jesus contemplates His Sorrowful Mother for the last time before He breathes forth His spirit.
9. The Blessed Sacrament (Matthew 26: 26—The Last Supper and the Institution of the Eucharist) Every time you make a visit to a Catholic Church and look at the Tabernacle, or better yet, Jesus exposed in the Monstrance, bring to mind that Jesus is truly looking at you with great love, tenderness, compassion and care. Look into the Eucharistic eyes of Jesus and tell Him that you truly love Him.
10. The Beatific Vision Finally, after we have concluded our earthly pilgrimage, dying to sin and looking into the loving eyes of Jesus our Savior, we will die. But our physical death is not the last word. Rather, the last word is life and Eternal life—HEAVEN! Once we have been purified of all stain of sin, we will be welcomed into our Heavenly Home. What will we see or contemplate with our eyes? The beatific vision. With unveiled eyes we will gaze into the Face of Jesus, who is the Lord of Lord’s, the King of King’s, the Beloved Son of God the Father, with His joyful and loving gaze fixed upon us for all eternity! This indeed is the goal and the purpose of our earthly existence.
In conclusion, let us lift up our gaze to Mary who is truly the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our own loving Mother. It was the eyes of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who contemplated the Person and the eyes of Jesus for thirty years in His Hidden and Private Life. Then she contemplated His eyes as He hung on the cross. And finally, His eyes risen from the dead. However, now and for all eternity, Mary contemplates the awesome, magnificent, splendid Face and eyes of Jesus for all eternity. Let the words of the Psalmist resound in the depths of our hearts: “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy” (Ps. 34:5). May we contemplate the eyes of Jesus now through faith, so that one day we will contemplate His eyes face to face in Heaven for all eternity.
Image by hramikona on Shutterstock