A Spacious Heart
The day Adam and Eve yielded to the serpent’s suggestion in the garden of Eden and mistrusted God, “their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked” (Gen 3.7).
In fact, the real meaning of this passage is that their eyes were closed.
The moment they started seeing their partner’s body as an object, they lost sight of the other as a person, as a gift from God, as someone to be cherished in a responsive, loving and caring way.
Our inability to see other people, our surroundings and nature as they really are compromises our relation to them: we perceive them only in reference to ourselves, only insofar as they profit us, satisfy us.
When Jesus says that he has come “so that those who see may become blind” he means that his messageunmasks our illusions about ourselves, our pretence in our relations with others and our real intentions – “for the Lord does not see as mortals see: they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16.7).
We should remember this whenever we are tempted to judge someone. We trust our views, we see everything from our point of view, use our own criteria and feel sure that we are right.
The truth is that our physical eyes might see, but it is our hearts that are blind.
Interestingly Jesus in the Gospel makes a parallel between the situation of our heart and our ability to see :“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5.8). This does not apply only to our relation with God.
Our heart becomes ‘pure’ when we learn how to listen to others without judgement. We do not allow our inevitable prejudices to be a barrier between us and the people we meet in our lives. Only in this way we really see people. Empathy, kindness and generosity of heart open our eyes.
There is a wonderful word to describe this quality; ‘magnanimous’, literally ‘great-souled’ or ‘spacious-hearted. It evokes to me the image of a heart that has widened so much that it can give hospitality to others, be a shelter to those who are in need. The ‘spacious-hearted’ see other people not to use them, or judge them, but to cherish them with respect and care. This, in the end, truly is to see God.