THE ONE WHO SEES ME SEES THE FATHER. These words of Jesus can be construed in various ways. We meet the children of old friends at times and immediately recognize in them the father as we knew him when young. Or even in his characteristic manner and gestures, the cast of his face, the tone of his voice. We discern at times the same integrity of character in the son as we have known in the father, or the same sense of honor. Such a recognition of character depends upon a familiarity that results from extended dealings with the person who reveals the other.
Here it is evident that Jesus refers to an analogous knowledge at a spiritual, transcendent level. Not the likeness of form and manner but of personal character. As St. John Chrysostom observed he refers here to some reality too hidden for mere physical sight to reveal. It is a commonly recognized fact of human experience that different persons display a decidedly distinct capacity for observation. We can see an event or a person with our eyes and fail to discriminate certain traits of the various features of the reality offered to our sight. One person may see very distinctly that another is reaching out for help that he cannot express in words or with obvious gestures, while another may see only an awkward and frustrating figure. What we are able to know when we see depends on our own inner attitudes and experience.
Jesus draws our attention to this feature of our humanity today as he rebukes his apostle and seeks to raise his vision to the unseen world where person meets person and intermingle in the spirit. There is an art to perception as well as a physiology. We can cultivate this art by exercise of the faculties of the heart and spirit. To open the eyes of our heart, to learn to listen with the ears of the heart is to enter the realm where we can communicate at a deeper level than appears on the surface. The person who learns to listen to the Spirit of the Lord speaking within will be able to hear the same Spirit speaking in others. He will be able to recognize when the voice of the Spirit is being muffled and his light dimmed by the insensitivity of the other once he will have faced his own dullness of heart and by prayer and meditation polish and freed it from selfish passions.
As we meditate on these words of our Lord today and receive him in the Eucharist, may we engage ourselves more earnestly in this inner work of the heart until we are able to see with the eyes of the Spirit and know that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him. For in this knowledge is our fulfillment and our joy and our occupation for all eternity.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
© Abbey of the Genesee
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