Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.
This is what God told Samuel as he tried to figure out which of Jesse’s sons should be anointed the next king of Israel. Each of the young men looked kingly enough — appeared royal enough — to Samuel, and yet the Lord hadn’t actually chosen any of them.
Samuel needed to be given — the Divine Vision of things.
And sure enough, this sight was given to him.
“Are these all the sons you have?” Samuel asked, probably with some frustration, and Jesse responds: “Well, there’s still the youngest boy… he’s out tending the sheep.”
“Send for him!” Samuel urged him.
When David finally arrives, at once the LORD says to Samuel: “There! Anoint him! This is the one!”
Receive sight, Samuel! This is the one! And his eyes were opened!
Samuel experienced a flash of divine vision in that moment. He could now see the truest reality of things! He saw God’s perfect and holy will unfolding right in front of him through this unlikeliest person — a little shepherd boy from Bethlehem.
So David was anointed king, and “from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon him.”
What a beautiful story!
David was NOT much to look at. Sure, he was ruddy and handsome, and had a “splendid appearance” as the Scriptures say… but king?
Nobody saw that coming…
Then again, Jesus wasn’t much to look at either. He did not look very kingly either… but He was the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
To the naked eye, however, Jesus was only a poor vagabond from a tiny, insignificant town — a homeless man surrounded by a ragtag team of fishermen, tax collectors, women with unsavory pasts, and all sorts of other sinners. He had no possessions to his name. Nowhere to lay his head. A wandering carpenter, suddenly turned prophet. …Suddenly making astonishing claims about himself and His Father in Heaven.
Who IS this Jesus?
By the looks of him…? Nothing special. Nothing to demand our attention! He certainly didn’t appear to be God in the flesh, walking among us…
As the prophet Isaiah had written, long before: “His appearance was so marred — so disfigured — beyond human likeness. He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. A man of sorrows — acquainted with grief!”
Not even this man we heard about in the Gospel today — the man born blind, who was miraculously healed by Jesus — Not even HE could see His Divinity at first. Look at his encounter with the Lord:
Jesus asked him point blank: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
The man’s response is so humble and so pure — but it reveals that this man, even after receiving physical sight, needed yet another healing, a deeper healing of his vision — He needed the light of faith — Divine Vision to see Jesus for who He really was:
“Who is he, sir,” he asks “that I may believe in him”
Then Jesus says: “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”
Can you imagine the man’s shock?
You’re looking right at him!
You’re looking at the one who, by all appearances, does NOT look very impressive — and yet — He is the Meaning of the Universe. He is the deepest longing of your heart. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. He’s your Creator and Your Lord! Your loving and merciful Savior!
The one speaking with you is he.
And in that moment, the man receives another even more crucial opening of his eyes, and he replies in faith: “I do believe, Lord.”
And he worshiped him.
I think we would do well to remember this: Jesus did not appear very special at all. He didn’t walk around glowing. There was no cloud of smoke and lightning in his train. He did not force people to believe in Him by overpowering displays of the divine.
He looked…for all intents and purposes… just like any other man. And yet somehow — He was also the image of the invisible God!
This should give us all hope.
Because I think sometimes we can look at our own lives and start to think:
“You know, I don’t appear very special. I’m not much to look at.” And then what happens? Well… we start looking at everyone else around us and discouraging thoughts start to attack us:
- Everyone else looks so much happier…so much healthier… so much more successful than me…
- All these people at church seem so much more prayerful…so much holier than me!
- Their kids seem so much more well-behaved than mine…
- He looks so much stronger than me.
- She looks so much prettier than me.
This horrible game of comparison, based on mere superficial appearances and judgments, steals our joy, doesn’t it? It leads to so much frustration and anxiety! It drags us down into self-pity and self-love. It paralyzes us. Makes us more and more blind to the blessings we’ve been given…
More and more blind to the Divine Vision of things!
When those thoughts begin to crowd our heart and our mind, I think we need to learn to pause and ask ourselves:
When God looks at me, what does He see?
Have you ever asked that? If not, try it out right now: “Lord, how do You see me right now?”
I can tell you this: He does not see a failure.
He does not see a mess that He has to begrudgingly clean up.
He does not see a disaster that needs to get his or her act together before it’s too late.
What the Lord sees when he looks at us is this:
He sees His kids.
He sees His beloved sons and daughters.
He sees, as St. Paul put it in our second reading, that “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord!”
He sees saints in progress…
He sees the mission He is sending you on…
He sees each of our stories, beginning to end…
He sees our struggles for holiness.
He sees the real you. All your mistakes. Your motives. Your strengths. Your weaknesses. Your illnesses. Your hopes. Your desires.
He sees your heart. It is plainly visible to Him!
For “not as man sees does God see — man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.”
That is the Divine Vision.
Can you see this truth about yourself? That you are loved and known? Can you see this is true about everyone else in your life? Even your enemies? Even people you disagree with…?
If you can’t see this yet, then you need Jesus to come and make some clay, and smear it onto the eyes of your soul — You need Him to give you a miraculous, supernatural healing. You need the brand new eyes of faith, hope, and love.
Ask Him for that sight — That Divine Vision.
This is why we come to the Sacraments, and especially the Mass, isn’t it? Because… this is where we meet Christ, the one who opens our eyes.
Jesus just spoke to us. Did you see Him? Did you hear him?
He’s standing right in front of us! “You have seen him. The one speaking with you is he.”
This is the beauty and the mystery of the Church, the Body of Christ, most especially here at the Sacred Liturgy, in the celebration of the Eucharist —
Whether it looks like it or not…
Jesus has been sitting next to you this entire time in all the people in the pews around you.
Jesus just processed into this sanctuary, wearing beautiful vestments in the person of the priest.
Jesus has been in us, praising God through the hymns and psalms we’ve been singing.
Jesus, just declared the Living and Inspired Word of God to you from this ambo through the Sacred Scriptures!
Hopefully, Jesus is speaking to your heart through this homily!
But above all, in just a few minutes, Jesus will be standing there at the altar, breaking the bread, and offering up the cup — turning these simple things, these things that don’t look like very much at all… into His own Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
“You have seen him. The one speaking with you is he.”
Do you have Divine Vision to see Him? Do you see yourself and the world around you with supernatural eyes?
Are you willing to fall on your knees today and say:
“I do believe, Lord.”