Sunday, April 26, 2009

Looking through the eyes

April 26, 2009
Third Sunday of Easter

..."Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have. And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet"...
(Luke 24:35-48)
Two stories:

There was this sixty-year-old woman who was finally prevailed upon by her family to see the eye doctor. The doctor gave her a thorough test and after three days, fitted her with a new set of eyeglasses.

As the old lady looked out the window, she exclaimed: "Why, I can clearly see the steeple of our church, and it's over three blocks away!". The eye expert replied: "That is only a short distance. You just didn't realize you've been going around for many years half-blind.".

On the other hand, there was this atheist who had a very powerful telescope. For hours on end, he delighted in looking at the moon in its phases and at the planets and star clusters. He said: "It is a fantastic sight with all those bodies moving about so orderly. With this telescope, I can see so many fine points in the heavens. I have yet to find God, and if there was one, I have yet to see him."

It is interesting that one does not have glasses and the other has a powerful telescope, and yet one is half-blind, and the other, totally blind. The biggest paradigm shift is that of putting on the lens of faith, and seeing the world as God sees it. From this new vantage point, a lot of things fall into place.

Now there is this other story I remembered from a homily that our bishop delivered sometime in the past.

There was this journalist-atheist who was covering a disaster-relief operation somewhere in southern Philippines after a particularly devastating typhoon. As the story goes, there was this little girl who lined up to receive food relief goods. There was a lot of shoving and jostling, and the poor little girl found herself at the end of the very long line. When her turn finally came, there was only one piece of banana left. The little girl gratefully took the banana and proceeded quickly towards two other smaller children huddled in a far corner. It turned out she had two other siblings patiently waiting for her to get food for all of them. She then peeled the banana, broke it in half, and gave one each to her two little siblings. As for herself, she just proceeded to lick the insides of the banana peelings.

The journalist-atheist was able to witness the entire incident, and it was a stunning paradigm shift for him. A most powerful lens was set upon his eyes. Right then and there he was converted, as he said: "I have seen the face of Christ".


Anonymous said...

Great read, Willy.

I like your atheist with the telescope. He looks far but ends up focusing on the past. Why the past? The nearest star is Alpha Centauri which is 4.2 light years away. Whatever he was watching through the telescope is over 4 years old. But he's really not that much of an atheist, is he? His questions betray an underlying search for God. But while he focuses on the past, his heretofore unrealized epiphany may lie in the beauty he sees with clarity.

How many times have we all behaved like him? Focusing on the past and cluttering our minds with past guilts and successes, we lose sight of what we have today. Too often we allow our past guilts and offenses to convince us we are bad and unworthy people, and so smother the spirit that drives us forward. After all, who are we that fortune should smile upon us? At other times we allow our past successes to get to our heads, repeatedly reminding others we did this and that and look how great we are! Dag Hammarskjöld put it this way: "It was when Lucifer first congratulated himself for his angelic behaviour that he became the tool of evil."

- TE

WillyJ said...

Atheists accept only as valid hypotheses those that can be "scientifically" falsified,
meaning that they are against hypotheses that can be neither proven wrong nor right at their terms. No wonder they do not see anything, as they have telescopes but do not have any compass.

On focusing at the past, I shudder at the thought as I remember what happened to Lot's wife.

Anonymous said...


To be against any hypothesis that can neither be proven right nor wrong on one's own terms. I find that statement quite remarkable. To do that I'd have to know enough to be able to set reasonable terms. Otherwise I'd just be an ignorant and blindly arrogant atheist. Then I would have to evaluate all things, not just religion, against such a standard. Otherwise I'd just be a biased and unfair atheist.

I'd have such a stressful time of it, too. Strictly speaking, I'd have to prove or disprove something before I can take a stand on it. I'd be a fence-straddler all the time since I can't possibly evaluate everything on this earth. Perhaps one can be a "specialist atheist" like a doctor specializing in a specific field?

Still, I would imagine rest and peace would be really hard to come by.

What a stressful and boring life that would be. Bereft of spontaneous wonder, none of that inner joy at life's surprises, not even that silent awe at life's mysteries. Always questioning, never giving an inch and always watching out that I won't lose my mind. How do I find truth when my tools are cynicism and an insistence on being the arbiter even though I don't know everything?

Perhaps that's why the journalist's epiphany was a peak experience for him. The contrast with the normal atheistic viewpoint must have been earthshaking.

- TE

matthew archbold said...

Nice piece. I agree. It's all how you look, not always where you look.