Vintage anatomical model of the eye,
Painted plaster and glass
Made in the 1960's
© Christian Art

Vintage anatomical model of the eye,
Painted plaster and glass
Made in the 1960's
© Christian Art

Gospel of 14 June 2024

If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out

Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.

‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.'

Reflection on the anatomical eye sculpture

Today's Gospel reading has a sharp edge to it. The language Jesus uses sounds strange to our ears: "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away." Jesus is speaking in an exaggerated manner to capture our attention! He clearly does not mean to be taken literally. This image of tearing out our right eye links to his understanding of adultery not just as a physical act but as an intention or a desire: "whoever looks at a woman lustfully..." Jesus goes beyond the actions prohibited by the Ten Commandments to the roots of those actions in the human heart. This is the deeper virtue he calls to in his sermon on the mount, which we are reading this week as part of our daily Gospel readings.

Jesus calls for not just a change of behavior but a change of heart, a purification of desire and intention. This interior transformation is understood elsewhere in the Scriptures to be the work of the Spirit. It is the Spirit of God who renews the human heart. It is above all in prayer that we open ourselves to the Spirit of God.

In the 1960s, anatomical eye sculptures were created as invaluable teaching aids for educators and medical students. These meticulously crafted models showcased the intricate structures of the human eye, offering a detailed and tangible resource for understanding ocular anatomy. Made from plaster and often hand-painted with precision, these models provided a realistic representation of the eye’s components. These sculptures could be disassembled and reassembled, so students would get an understanding of the inner working of the eye, including the cornea, iris, lens, retina, and optic nerve, allowing students to study each component in detail. These anatomical eye sculptures were part of a broader trend toward using physical models to supplement textbooks and lectures.

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Zeffi
Member
Zeffi
1 month ago

Random thoughts on today’s Gospel reading:
1 (at least in English) there’s a difference between “seeing” and “looking” – one “sees” all manner of things, and gives them not a serious thought, but one “looks” to observe. (How true this is in Aramaic I don’t know)
2 even then, there’s a difference between “looking”/“observing” and and leaving it at that, and becoming obsessed by the object of one’s looking, thinking of them often, making invidious comparisons with one’s spouse, fantasising about how it might be to be with the person observed
3 this can lead to violence against the now-hated spouse, desertion of spouse and children
4 even to murder, revenge, feuding, suicide
5 for an example of the progression from lustful looks, see the novel “Anna Karenina”

So lusting after a person not one’s spouse is not just a sexual matter, it’s the potential gateway to other serious sins. Although in a society where marriages are not arranged, sexual attraction can and often does lead to marriage.

It seems rather hard on a woman whose husband has divorced her that she should be
regarded as an adulteress, especially where this could result in her being stoned to death, while the divorcing husband goes free. Even if not murdered, a deserted woman could, by this teaching, have no chance of a “proper” new marriage.

George K
Member
George K
1 month ago
Reply to  Zeffi

The first time I ever saw my wife we were both teenagers. I did not meet her that day. She was sexually desirable to me, so I saw her with lust in my eyes, I don’t think it was in my heart, though. Fast forward fifteen years; I saw her again. She was divorced. Lust was still a factor, but now so was a relationship and romance. We got to know each other better and we were married. My part of our relationship grew from lust to infatuation, to like, to romance, to friendship, to acceptance, to compassion, to understanding, and to unconditional love, not necessarily in that order. I’m sure there were many more stages in our process. So, lust does not automatically lead to sin, it can lead to spiritual growth. That has been my experience.

George K
Member
George K
1 month ago
Reply to  George K

For what it’s worth, in the only place in the Bible I’m aware of that Jesus addresses adultery, Jesus tells the adulteress He doesn’t condemn her. That’s recorded in John 8:2-11.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago
Reply to  George K

Except it as biblical scholars almost unanimously agree John didn’t write that it was tagged on as a good story.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago
Reply to  George K

What you describe seems like normal attraction between the sexes. I can’t think it’s sinful, myself…

George K
Member
George K
1 month ago

Patricia, I totally agree with you. It seems some folks automatically take things to extremes.

George K
Member
George K
1 month ago

Patricia, here’s a few statements Pope Francis made in ‘Amoris Laetitia’.

“We (Pope, bishop, priests) have been called to form consciences, not to replace them.”

“We (Church authorities) … find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who … are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations.”

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
1 month ago
Reply to  Zeffi

Ohhhh … THANKS YOU Zeffi and George!

Over here on Pacific Daylight Time I’m late to the ‘C A ‘ … but I’m so hoping others will jump in our thread (esp. Elvira, and some of the ‘olde/wiser women – grin)

Can I begin with a quote from a few CA’s back re: the Feasts of the Sacred and Emmaculate ‘HEARTS’:
“… the two ‘together’ at once anticipate Resurrection … out of the very-most specific morass of sin’s shadow, horrific triteness, tragedy and contradiction.”

As I was reading Fr. P’s reflection I found myself thinking out loud ” Yes! … and maybe the explanation mark “!” , would work better on the next sentence ending with “…taken literally”

It is SO IMPORTANT that we ‘get Jesus meaning’ when he speaks in the non-literal, in the parabolic, in the emphatic); …that we don’t just gloss over and pass them by: ‘ … well, He/Jesus was obviously over reacting … again’.

I really like Zeffi’s distinction of ‘seeing Vs looking’. Interestingly, the english traces ‘Looking’ to ‘dialect’ > ‘discourse, way of speaking’: … an entering into conversation with sin is ALWAYS a bad idea.

The interlinear Bible gets even more interesting treating the original Greek (I’ll post it below – as to keep this as short as possible). I want to especially underscore the ‘Metaphysical’ connotation: “see with the minds eye”.

I think in many of our ancient traditions the, capital M and H, Mind and Heart were of the same idea: the ‘seat of one’s desire’. I think Fr. P is in the right place re: it’s a matter ” …of heart, a purification of desire and intention”.

There is a more than obvious progression at hand: with the emerging God-less societies we are living in there is a growth of: Lust, pornography, the consequent narcissistic gutting of men (and women), the desolation of spousal relationships and finally the destruction of family … marriage/ Devore/remarriage abounding. Perhaps this is what caused Jesus to be so emphatic about this ‘lust of the eye’ which is at the root of it all.

Our Faith teaches very emphatically: we cannot get a good from an evil. Totally respecting George’s experience, I want to strongly suggest that perhaps, his good wife’s prayers and Love, together with his conversion in Love, humility, courage and cherishing, were far more the factor of his spiritual growth. This, purging his heart of the evil which would have necessarily – I concur with Zeffi’s assessment – only led naturally to another divorce – “violence against the now-hated spouse, desertion of spouse and children”.

Yes, your citation of “Anna Karenina” is so ‘ON’!! It’s Tolstoy’s absolutely brilliant treatment of the ‘root romance that was at the root of Russia’s fall’. And the 2012 film Wright film. certainly did justice to the towering novel!! ( i must reread soon!)

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Howard

Blepo
blep’-o
Parts of Speech
Verb
Definition:
to see, discern, of the bodily eye
with the bodily eye: to be possessed of sight, have the power of seeing
gaze at to perceive by the senses, to feel
to discover by use, to know by experience
metaphysical:
to see with the mind’s eye
to have (the power of) understanding
discover, understand
to turn the thoughts or direct the mind to a thing, to consider, contemplate, to weigh carefully, examine

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Howard

Follow it up with “crime and punishment”.. a very fine morality story if you can stick with it!

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

TOTALLLLLY thima

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Howard

sorry … ‘S’

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Howard

.. ‘@’ (grin)

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago

Hmm…no sign of Chazbo 🤔 Hope he’s alright.
As we love Spain on here, I should mention I went last night to Festival Flamenco at Sadlers Wells and saw the Ballet Nacional de Espana. The singers and guitarists were perfect but the dancing – such skill, such precision. Their timing was impeccable and their feet act, of course, as another firm of percussion. I was mesmerised.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
1 month ago

What a treat, Patricia. Years ago I saw a performance in Barcelona that was so wonderful I’ve never attended another, so far…sounds as if that might have been the one.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

And ditto, hope Chazbo and family are well.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
1 month ago

I mentioned yesterday Jesus’ use of exaggeration, as a wake-up call, using vivid language and illustrations that neither we nor the disciples could forget. We need to be roused out of our everyday torpor! And made to realise that a nice exterior can hide all sorts of murk. It takes a lot of awareness and prayer to get anywhere the pureness of heart which Jesus lists in the Beatitudes.
The eyes have been called the window of the soul. How often have we heard “her/his mouth was smiling, but the eyes were not”. Eyes can smile, sparkle, flash, be loving; or be cold, forbidding, judgemental, hateful or just enigmatic.
The model we see here is of a blue eye. These are found in only about 10% of the world’s population, predominating in northern Europe. It is a freak of nature, and, it is thought, owes the mutation to a common ancestor. Two weeks ago I had my regular eye-test and was fascinated to be shown the scans. So many blood vessels! It looked like a map of the desert with thousands of rivers branching off in all directions. Who knows what lies beneath the outward show of things!
Lord, help us to be aware of our complexity, and with your help to purify ourselves, “till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before You,
lost in wonder, love and praise.
How will that come about?
“Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest.
Take away our love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.”

Take away our love of sinning. Years ago I attended a play in Wandsworth Prison, put on by the prisoners of the sex offenders’ unit. Afterwards I was talking with the RC chaplain. “I’m very sorry to say that I hardly ever meet a man here who is repentant. They can’t wait to get out and carry on as before.”
How radical, deeply rooted, sin can be.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago

What a brilliant pairing in image and Word we have today! A giant eye indeed- would we call this a work of art? Functional yes, but I also think it has a challenging quality to it. It causes us to reflect on our own vision I think.

As a human representation of an eye it is clumsy and awkward, but we can marvel on what a complex and fragile thing the human eye is and how our eyes work without our knowledge or awareness. We see ourselves mirrored in the eyes of others, if we are lucky to get so close.

The reading is equally challenging and thought provoking. No one would cut off their own hand, or take out their own eye. Maybe a mental illness might cause this to happen, after all Van Gogh tried to cut off his own ear. But no sane person would chop off a bit of their own body, would they? I think Jesus is saying this with a smile on His face. He has to get this message across somehow. Matthew remembers it maybe for that reason.

We all have sinful thoughts, sometimes lots of them in the course of a day. At the beginning of every Mass we admit this in saying we have sinned ‘in my thoughts and in my words…’ it is a collective acknowledgement of ourindividual weakness.

Our thoughts are how the devil gets in, and so it is only right that we make ourselves aware of them as often as we can.

For Catholics marriage is a serious business and rightly so because Christ Himself is the bridegroom of His church and will never relinquish her. That is His promise to her, and to us.

Human marriages do fail, but the Divine marriage never will.

‘Be thou my vision O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping thy presence my light.’

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago

I don’t see how can anyone can claim it’s all metaphor in the last part of today gospel. Nobody would be exempt, I feel. Plus, I am not even divorced, but if I were…
Today’s image – I bet a number of us had similar models in our science labs at school – we had great fun dismantling the various parts.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago

I can’t help thinking that in the last paragraph Jesus is falling into the same trap as the pharisees and crossing T’s and dotting I’s on rules in religion. So you can only divorce due to fornication? So much for forgiveness. Sex is such a crime!
And a man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. This rule belongs where it started, 2,000 years ago.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

To be fair it’s the gospel writers who put these words into Jesus’ mouth. I can’t see the Jesus who criticized the pharisees for worrying about how pans are washed and so forth coming out with these kinds of statements. the church (people not God) decided that marriage was a sacrament in about the 16th century. Not considering that our species survived because thousands of generations of ancestors did not worry about this. But we have to think modern thoughts for modern days. In Saudi Arabia they still execute people in the high street because they’re following the rules of their ancient religion. Fundamentalism in any religion is a big mistake. We have to interpret. Thus the last paragraph in this gospel is still applied in the Catholic religion. It should not be.

Ruth Dipple
Member
Ruth Dipple
1 month ago

At my school we had to dissect a bull’s eye, which we had collected that morning from the local butcher. I was about 14. The smell was awful.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago
Reply to  Ruth Dipple

I bet it stank! Of course, all that stuff is just not allowed now…maybe you’re glad ☺️

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago

It’s a pity we don’t get any “reaction shots” from the disciples from the gospel writers. Usually the disciples are portrayed as guilless onlookers sometimes asking naive questions. Jesus has already said we are “as angels” after death so not much chance of losing a hand in hell. I’m sure the followers would have had some pushback against this metaphorical ,figure of speech rebellion against human nature. Surely for example the Important thing is not to convert lustful desires into action. We can curb our actions but I am not sure we can curb our thoughts.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Morning Thimas. Agree with you there. Seems to me, to quote Fraser, “We’re all doomed…” 🫤

George K
Member
George K
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Thimas, you write…”We can curb our actions but I am not sure we can curb our thoughts.”

In my self-talk, I often remind myself: “First thought, wrong thought.” I agree, I cannot control my first thought, I do believe I can choose my decision to dwell on my first thought, though. My second thought is usually something like, ‘How can I bring God/Love into this circumstance or situation?’ or ‘What can I learn from this circumstance or situation?’

I believe temptation is not a sin; my first thought is not always a temptation, but when it is, that is when I must repent and re-choose my first thought.

Last edited 1 month ago by George K
Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
1 month ago
Reply to  George K

SO well put, George, it’s nurturing that first sinful/ tempting thought that is destructive.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
1 month ago

Good morning 🌞🌹…. In this Gospel, Jesus tells us about the greatest sense of chastity. Until the coming of Jesus, infidelity was measured only on the basis of acts. He, on the other hand, proposes us a new measure: holiness is not only “not doing evil”, but orienting the whole being towards good. And that’s the only way to achieve true happiness.
Jesus invites us to a radical love. Just as his love for us was total, he offers us a life in which we give ourselves without reserve. Therefore, in this context the chastity of Christian marriage makes sense: my whole being belongs to my partner, including my intentions. It is a priority relationship, because it must give meaning to all my other relationships with the world: who do I think of when I walk on the street, at work, in the hours of rest?… I love to remember the time when I met my husband…. remembering those years… being in love….
To love means to direct my whole being towards another person, starting with the look. Not only a look of “eyes”, but above all the look that means interest for the other, in an absorbing and exclusive way. Renunciations must be made, but these are only the necessary investment to gain something much more valuable: a full love.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Elvira

I’m not sure I can share your rather idealised summary of human marriage Elvira. Our whole beings belong only to God surely? We may share our bodies in Christian marriage as you say, but our bodies only ever belong to ourselves, don’t they? Or am I misunderstanding you?
My own marriage was far from this ideal, and when out at work or socially, my husband was the last person I would be thinking of ha ha! Mea culpa.
If you had a long and loving marriage, you were very blessed.

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
1 month ago
Reply to  Elvira

THANKS YOU Elvira ..
YES … Orienting Orienting the whole “B” Being toward … the radical love that Jesus invite one to in the ” necessary” Sacramental witness of holy Matrimony – an ‘ideal in it’s wrinkled form’; … that images the very Triune Love.

Rodney Sonia Dow
Member
Rodney Sonia Dow
1 month ago

It shows how deeply Jesus wants us to not have to go to hell . He did all in His power by laying down His whole life to a brutal death to give us the alternative . How grateful we are that He took the punishment we all deserve and gave us His righteousness so that the kingdom of heaven could be birthed in us . I am so grateful !

Monica Doyle
Member
Monica Doyle
1 month ago

I’m left wondering why Our Lord had to give that little pep talk to the disciples as they walked with him! A different take… I know but as Jesus spent so much time with his disciples he was bound to notice all their “funny little ways”… Jesus noticed what took their attention.. the women at the well, the women at the market place and the women at the early morning communal ovens… Most of his followers appear to have been married men and would have missed their wives! I’ll say no more… but doesn’t Jesus notice everything about us…even when we don’t speak it out loud. Tis true … he sees into our hearts… much better than I do! So Fr. Patrick.. like you say, that’s when the Holy Spirit comes… Come right now! Please! Thank you!

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