August 9, 2013
Have you noticed that not making eye contact is almost the same as pretending someone is not there? If that driver doesn’t look at you, she doesn’t have to let you in. If you don’t look at that person on the corner holding the sign you don’t have to give him anything.
Usually, when we do acknowledge someone by looking them in the eye, it’s not like a lot is required of us: maybe just a little courtesy or a simple hello. But the fear is that a lot more MIGHT be expected: we might have to get involved, or do something, or – gasp – care. It’s safer to just not go there.
After Jesus’ ascension, his disciples Peter and John approached a crippled man outside the temple and said “look on us.” This man had been lame since his birth and was not even allowed into the temple. Since he was a beggar, it’s likely no one ever made any attempt at conversation, let alone eye contact. The disciples’ gift, however, was more than alms: it was healing. Peter said, “silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” And he did! He leapt with joy, proceeding into the temple with them. (see Acts 3:1-10)
Just to be clear: it wasn’t the eye contact that healed the man. As the Apostle Paul, quoting Isaiah, says, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” In other words, eyes and ears are not the means of receiving God’s message. Paul further explains: “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” (I Cor 2:9,10)
Eye and ear reveal the nitty-gritty details of the human condition that are often more than we want to cope with. But in a heart prepared by love for God, the Spirit reveals the true identity of absolutely everyone. And that revelation heals.
Jesus was very clear about that. He knew the inherent value of each individual in his Father’s eyes. And he took the time to acknowledge that value. Doing so may have brought upon him the wrath of the Pharisees, but it changed the world – not just for the ones he healed, but for you and me.
Jesus chastised his countrymen for not taking that larger, more momentous view when he said, “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (see Matt. 16:3)
It’s true that looking someone in the eye may require something of us: a smile, a hand. But what it really calls for is to look beyond the “face of the sky” to see the face of God.
That kind of viewpoint heals.
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.