“Look at him in this body which is the Church, wounded and crucified, needy, persecuted, despised and mocked” (Letter 42:2)
Have you been to an ophthalmologist for an eye checkup? How is the condition of your eyes? Did the doctor told you that you are near or far sighted? Or, good news you don’t have problem with your eyes. In today’s gospel we need our sense of sight in order to see Jesus up on the cross. We need a special eye to be able to see him and understand why he is there hanging up above. That special eye is no other than love. Love is the eye, if you do not have love in your heart you will not be able to understand why Jesus is on the cross. Whatever the doctor may tel about your eyes it doesn’t matter because love is the eye.
The Gospel begins with Moses lifting up the serpent in the dessert and we know at that time many Israelites died. It’s interesting to recall that they were not told to capture a live snake and nail it to the pole, for then that would symbolize each of us dying for our own sin. The Lord did not tell them to go out with swords to kill the snakes. God did not even require them to go to the pole, in case they were too weak. There was no energy of the flesh involved at all. They were not told of some medicine that would heal them of the snake bites. They didn’t have to go and serve others and so earn their healing. No, thanks God for those who serve, but the source of their healing was their obedience to the Word of God to a simple look of faith. They were healed most all because they love. I wonder how many of them died because they refused to receive and follow the simple provision given to them. The answer for their salvation was right there in front of them, but like some of us today, they perhaps overlooked God’s provision because it was too simple.
I am sure that many of us, daughters of Fr. Palau, could not get our minds around the simplicity of looking away from ourselves to look in the direction of Jesus’ body which is the Church, wounded and crucified, needy, persecuted, despised and mocked. There may have been some of us who say, “How on earth can I be able to love him, offer myself to take care of him and to do whatever he wants from me by just simply looking at him?” The cross is the symbol of God’s love and forgiveness of our sins. The picture here is the story that is beautiful in simplicity. Sin has been judged by God, and the one who looks with the eyes of love to the picture of the cross receives healing. There is a kind of love that is “elicited”: its acts proceed directly from the virtue of charity and are directed to individuals and peoples (Cf. Fratelli Tutti 186). It happens with the advice of Fr. Palau to look at the wounded body of Christ with the eyes of love as an act of union. Through the eyes of love God moves us to encounter him in our daily mission, assist someone who is suffering even if we do not know that person, to work to change the social conditions that caused his or her suffering. “Only a look or a gaze that is transformed by love can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be recognized and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture” (Fratelli Tutti 186). How can this be possible by a simple gaze at the cross? Looking through the eyes of love allows us to see beyond the wounded body of Christ. It allows us to transmit God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. God’s ways are higher than our ways. If He has made it as simple as repenting and looking to the cross, why then will we not believe and trust Him? Isaiah the prophet also spoke of the simplicity of being saved with just a look: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22). Let us continue looking at Jesus with our special eyes which is love so that our passion to serve his wounded body the Church would flow to no limit.
Now, ask yourself, “How is Jesus’ looking upon me? As he looks at you and you look at him, is he calling your name? As he looks at you, is he trying to say that you are forgiven? As he looks at you maybe he is even calling you to mission! A mission that is yours alone! What is he saying to you?” Let us listen in silence…