The Five Senses, Sight,
Painted by Pieter Breughel (1568-1625) and Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640),
Painted circa 1617,
Oil on canvas,
© Museo del Prado, Madrid
Happy the eyes that see what you see
Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said:
‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
Happy the eyes that see what you see
n today’s Gospel reading we enter into the intimacy of the prayer life of Jesus: he first prays to His Father and then turns to His disciples to share some further personal thoughts. The beautiful words Jesus prays at the beginning of the reading, reveals how He actually ‘experiences’ His relationship with His Father through the Holy Spirit. Jesus praying as part of the Holy Trinity: Him, His Father and the Holy Spirit. This is also a prayer of thanksgiving to His Father for His disciples and their successful mission which we read about earlier in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus then turns to his disciples and tells them that they are indeed blessed to have accepted the Good News and helped spread it. So in today’s reading Jesus involves the disciples deep into the reality of the Holy Trinity, just as he invites all of us to do so.
When talking to the disciples, Jesus talks about the senses (seeing and hearing). Yes, we live in a world where our senses are often overstimulated, by media, technology, advertisements, etc… By Jesus using the words related to the senses, He is telling us that we should also use these senses to help us experience God. He created us all to see as God sees, to hear as God hears, to taste as God tastes, to touch as only he can touch, etc… Yes our five senses can also bring us closer to Him:
- Sight: everything we look at and see can be an expression of the beauty of creation, wether in nature, a person or a situation. The visible can reveal to us the Invisible. The painting today , a collaboration between Pieter Breughel and Peter Paul Rubens, is part of a series depicting the five senses, and ours is about Sight, showing a female figure contemplating a painting of Christ restoring the sight of a blind man.
- Hearing: we are surrounded by sounds, voices, music, birdsong… even the sound of silence. Listening carefully we can discover God within all of these sounds.
- Tasting: when we eat and drink, our senses take us beyond just the mere need of nurturing ourselves to survive. We eat and drink also out of joy for sharing meals with family and friends, all rejoicing in love and friendships… in the midst of which God is present.
- Smell: a scent of freshness or loveliness can provoke thankful feelings towards the nature we were given by God and asked to participate in and protect.
- Touching: in a literal way, or even figuratively when people move us, we can be reminded of Jesus touching the leper and His healing hands.
All of our senses invite us to participate in God’s beauty… and engage with Him…
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