Friday, November 09, 2012

Spiritual Nearsightedness

The troparia to the Holy Trinity said in the Morning Prayers begins the third verse with these words: "Suddenly the Judge will come, and the deeds of each will be revealed."

The mirror in which we see God reflected and reflecting our deeds is only seen darkly before the Judge comes. (Please note that this same mirror is showing us God and showing us ourselves.) But in this life, we can only see darkly, then we will see face to face. This is the reason why, on the one hand, like St. Paul we cannot judge even ourselves (at least not very well) before the End when the Judge comes.  And, on the other hand, we are taught by the Church to have a constant cry of "Lord Have Mercy" on our lips and in our heart, because of all that we don't see and all that we choose not to see will be revealed.  

Because now we make judgements in such darkness, in a mirror twisted and dull, pot marked and cracked, we can easily see as just what we want to see as just and call distortion what we don't want to see as just. Or as has been often said, we find what we look for. Consequently too much introspection, especially without spiritual guidance, leads to delusion and depression or delusion and overweening arrogance. In our pride we think we should be able to fix ourselves up. But we are like a nearly blind person trying to paint a room: there is just too much we don't see.  

However, it is not as though we are completely blind. We see many of the big things. We see enough to repent, to have an idea of what is probably good and right, and we are pretty certain that some things in our lives are selfish and hurtful. We see enough to repent; yet we also see not enough to live in willful delusion. Reality is not forced on us. Even death can be a time when we refuse reality. Our culture has found a way of denying death by no longer having funerals, only "the celebration of a life."  But death is nevertheless the doorway into the heavenly reality. At death there is no denying reality: then we will see face to face. Then the deeds of each will be revealed.

And so we pray continually: Lord have mercy. Accepting that all thoughts and intentions and words and deeds will be revealed produces humility.  And this makes us more like Christ.  Knowing how poorly we see now, we show mercy to our nearsighted neighbours, knowing ourselves what it is to be nearsighted.  And this too makes us more like Christ.

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