March 7, 2020 – 1st Week of Lent

“Overcoming our short-sightedness and instead, adopting the Divine Vision!”

(Based on Deut 26:16-19 and Mt 5:43-48)

Myopia is a commonly found eye condition.

Popularly, it is also called as “near-sightednessa” or “short-sightedness”.

It is a state of the eye that causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close objects can be seen clearly.

Coming from the greek word, “muōpia”, which literally means “trying to see like a mole”…
… myopia is a condition of the eye that causes the image that one sees, when looking at a distant object, to be out of focus, but in focus when looking at a close object.

Well, this short-sightedness or myopia is limited to not just the physical eye…

It can also easily be applicable to our general outlook of life or our spiritual life.

Yes, it is often found that one becomes short-sighted in life – seeing things only as they appear at the moment, and unable to take the long view of matters.

This is “spiritual myopia”
This is “spiritual short-sightedness”

The Gospel of the day presents Jesus inviting us to become aware of the presence of a possible “spiritual myopia” in our lives and to take measures to get rid of this condition.

The passage begins with the statement.. “You have heard that it was said….. But I say to you”

It must be borne in mind that the region in and around the ministry of Jesus, was multicultural and multilingual.
Under the Roman Empire, there was an infusion of languages… Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew…

Many of the common people of Israel usually spoke in Aramaic or Greek and perhaps Latin.

In this multi-linguistic situation, the reading and understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures (which was in Hebrew) was mainly by the religious leaders of the time – the Pharisees and the Scribes.

This therefore gave them the chance to interpret the Scriptures in a manner that reflected their own personal and biased teachings.

As time passed, this style of interpretation finally led to the situation that just observing the Law in an outward allegiance was sufficient in fulfilling God’s demands.

The fulfilment of following the Law was reduced to a mere external practise.
The spirit of the law was sacrificed for the letter of the law!
The inner dimensions and requirements were abandoned.

A “spiritual myopia” had crept in…
A “spiritual short-sightedness” had overpowered them…
·       They were fixed only to doing the stipulations, but failed to live the spirit of the Law
·       They were limited to a vision of doing only the externals, but got blind to the internals.

And therefore, Jesus warns the people to be aware of this “spiritual myopia” and to see beyond..
…to the real requirements of the law
…to the core of God’s commandments

Jesus attacks the method of interpreting Scripture with a limited vision and perspective…

He contrasts the Pharisees’ interpretation of the law with the law’s real meaning, by using the formula : “You have heard that it was said to those of old. . . . But I say to you . . .”

Six times in the second half of Matthew 5, Jesus uses this formula…speaking about…
… anger (Mt 5: 21-22)
… adultery (Mt 5: 27-28)
… divorce (Mt 5: 31-32)
… oaths (Mt 5: 33-34)
… retaliation (Mt 5: 38-39)
… loving enemies (Mt 5: 43-44)

·       Each time Jesus described the “limited” interpretation of the law…and each time He “broadened” the vision of the law.
·       Each time Jesus put forth the “myopic” explanation of the law…and each time, He “enlarged” the understanding of the law.

Am I also in a condition of a “spiritual myopia”?
… limited in my vision of the love of God and failing to extend His charitable love to all
… limited in my vision of the law of God and being stuck to my egoistic interpretations
… limited in my vision of the mercy of God and blocking it from reaching our enemies.

Am I also in a condition of a “spiritual short-sightedness”?
… having eyes fixed only on materialistic aspects and failing to see heavenly realities
… having eyes fixed only on what happens externally and failing to understand inner facts
…having eyes fixed only on being pious outside and failing to have a genuine intimacy within

The book of Deuteronomy reminds us of the call to walk in the paths of the Lord:
“This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances; you shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul!” (Deut 26:16)

In the Nazareth Manifesto, at the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus declared that He has been sent, “to proclaim…recovery of sight to the blind…” (Lk 4:18)

Let us seek the grace of the Lord, to touch our eyes, and help us be healed of our spiritual “myopia”

God Bless ! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others…… and talk to God.”

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