This story is an illustration of not seeing. Standing in people’s midst is Jesus, God-in-the-flesh there to show them the way. Yet people cannot bring themselves to believe. So they beg for signs. Jesus lets them know that if they cannot see what is right in front of them, no further signs of who He is will be given
Jesus uses a metaphor about yeast and bread to illustrate a spiritual point and the disciples pull out a provisions bag, digging through its contents, certain Jesus must be focused on dinner. They too miss the point, not seeing what is right in front of them.
This is not just something that happened with them. It is a common constant in the spiritual life. How often have you had an event happened, and later had a lightbulb come on in your mind and said “Oh my! I now realize that person was in need and I should of…” or “I wonder if that was a time I should have done something different; if only I had recognized…” or “now I know what that feeling in my heart was. God was trying to show me to go another way…”
Psychologists talk about the power we have, in order to protect ourselves from feelings of shame, from discomfort, of unconsciously hiding ourselves to truths right in front of us that may be obvious to all. A bit part of therapy is helping you become able to see those truths you overlook because they are too frightening to admit.
There is a parallel to the spiritual life. One purpose of our spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, mindfulness, journaling, spiritual reading, is to help us learn to see the spiritual truths about ourselves, our lives, and others right in front of us. The reason it takes training is we have unconscious self-defense mechanisms in us to keep us from seeing uncomfortable truths about how we relate to others, about destructive patterns we get in, or ways that being more faithful to our spiritual journeys might call us out of our comfort zones. The way out of not seeing is ironic and counter-intuitive. It is not so much through greater effort but greater relaxation. Often fear of shame and judgment is I find the biggest barrier to truly seeing the things right in front of our face. Learning to embrace the limitless grace of God, a love that will not let you go, in your inner life is key to diminishing this spiritual blindness. The more you can look at yourself, warts and all, not with judgment or shame but with acceptance, with forgiveness, with compassion, the easier it will be to see our areas of growth. The less you feel the need to shield yourself from other’s judgment and feelings of shame, the more you will be open to taking risks, hearing God’s call right in front of you to come out of your comfort zone. After all, you will find yourself better able to trust that your life is in Christ’s hands and Christ is able to guide you beyond the known into the uncertainty of new beginnings safely despite the fears within that scream for your attention.
Let’s all open our hearts so that the Father of Lights and the Spirit like a Mother Dove might open the eyes of minds.