• Sarah Raad


Saint John Vianney asked a poor woman, “What do you say to Him?”The woman replied, “Nothing, I look at Him and He looks at me.”

Christ Preaching in the Temple (Juan de Valdes Leal)

I have been meditating upon the passage of Saint Luke’s Gospel that describes Christ’s preaching in the synagogue (Luke 4:14-22)...

“Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He went to the synagogue, as His custom was, on the sabbath day. And He stood up to read; and there was given to Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor...’ And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”

And as I imagine the scene, it is not to the preaching of Christ that my mind draws. It is not to the passage that He read from Scripture that day that my mind draws. And it is not to the people who were in the room – physically standing with GOD HIMSELF and miserably failing to realise His presence – that my mind draws.

Instead, as I meditate upon this passage, it is on the looking that I spend my time...

I can imagine the people sitting there looking straight ahead at God Himself – much as I do inside the Church.

You see, they sat there and “the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” And they watched Him. And when I reflect on this, I feel such great pity for those men who looked at Him that day…

You see, those blind men who sat in that place of worship and failed to see God before them, are just like me.

For just as they sat looking two thousand years ago, I sit looking now...

Those men inside that synagogue who were looking at Christ saw Joseph’s Boy. I am like them. Inside the church I am looking at the Eucharist but I see a wafer of bread.

Saint John Vianney once saw a poor woman sitting inside the church one day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and he asked her, “What do you say to Him?” The woman replied, “Nothing, I look at Him and He looks at me.”

And when I reflect on this passage of the Gospel, I am drawn to the looking in that scene. I am drawn to the people who were looking at Him and to His looking back at them.

And I wonder… Did they leave that place having seen anything? Did they leave that place with any more Grace? Did they leave that place knowing something more of God?

Or were they like me? Were they distracted by the flies and the heat? Did they notice the people in the row in front of them fidgeting in their seats and focus on that instead of on God – the Master of the Universe – Himself?

Did they say the words of those prayers like robots without even focusing their minds as I do?

And when I think of this I weep… For in twenty centuries I have learned nothing… And for my ignorance, as I continue looking, I must beg my Lord to forgive me…

For I look, but do not see…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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