Recently a congregation member told me how much she appreciated one of our church’s leaders. “A lot of people say ‘hi’ to me at church,” she said. “But Rose really sees me.” In the gospel of John, there are two kinds of seeing. There’s the physical sight of our eyes, and there’s the spiritual sight of our hearts and minds. Mary Magdalene, that blessed and blighted saint, saw the angels but still didn’t know that the miracle of resurrection had happened. She even saw Jesus himself, but guessed he was the gardener. Like an astute audience in a mystery movie, we as readers are yelling, “He’s right there!” But Mary’s spiritual sight is not awakened until Jesus calls her name.
When Jesus says “Mary,” the promise he made earlier in chapter 10 of John’s Gospel comes to light: Jesus’ sheep know his voice, and he knows their names. Mary responds by claiming him to be her own rabbi, and apparently by attempting to embrace him. Jesus says not to cling to him, which strikes us as not very warm and cozy. Yet when we hear the blessing Jesus will give at the end of this chapter (20:29), that those who have never seen him with physical eyes will be especially favored by God, we begin to understand. The gospel writer wants today’s believers to feel at no disadvantage to those who could physically see or touch Jesus. The literal seeing with our eyes would make no difference if we couldn’t see him with our minds and hearts.
So the next time you see someone you love, maybe try calling
them by name, and seeing them with more than your eyes. You might
even notice that it’s Jesus standing there.
How do you exercise your spiritual sight? Who do you know who could coach you on this?
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you near me! Amen.