Tag Archives: single eye

Pigs and Sirens

Icon of Jesus Healing the Demoniacs

13th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday (Year II)

Amos 5:14-15, 21-24; Matthew 8:28-34

After Adam lost his one-pointedness, the single eye (Matthew 6:22) split in two and revolved in every direction like strobe lights in the theater of the world. Knocked off center from his still and tranquil union with God, he became a creature of distraction in search of entertainment and pleasure to fill his insatiable appetite. 

The descendants of Cain established the first city and pioneered the music and technology industries (Genesis 5:21-22). Murder escalated as distractions multiplied: “If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold” (Genesis 5:42).

When friendship with God was no longer a given, religion made use of forged instruments and tools in worship and sacrifice, but humanity fell into distraction, worshipping its own inventions instead.

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; Your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.

Ritual and music—servants of the liturgy—became idols in Amos’ day. The original harmony was found not in externals but in the “justice” of Adam’s faculties in which body, soul and spirit moved effortlessly in graced union with the Trinity. When the energy of the Holy Spirit animated the first-created person, “rivers of living water” flowed from within (John 7:38). Amos’ yearning plea hearkened back to this original harmony: But if you would offer me burnt offerings, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.

The demoniacs in Matthew’s Gospel portray humanity in its frenzy and madness of distraction, torn apart by multiple voices (“Legion”) and omnidirectional wandering. The approach of the Light invoked the wrath of the demons: “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” 

Darkness recognized the Light, the original Source from which they freely departed. Its very existence depended on its Master. And so, its chaotic ensemble begged, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 

To the consternation of the townspeople, the demons rushed into the herd and drowned in the sea—an economic disaster. Two brothers and members of their own Body were healed, but capital was more important. The people “begged him to leave their district.” 

Why did Jesus allow the pigs to die? Just as “it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29), it was better that the town as a whole—taken as one man—lose its economic base rather than drown in the sea. 

The loss of the pigs was no more extreme than the plucking out of an eye or the severing of a limb. Losses purify desire and reveal the heart’s true priorities. Great discipline, humility and silence are required to master the things of this world rather than to be mastered by them. “Music” (all human ingenuity), technology, and money are servants not idols, even in the sphere of religion. As the Sirens drowned many a man in Greek mythology, the pleasures and ambitions of this world are legion and lethal to the spirit if not ordered rightly.

-GMC

Beyond Contradiction

10th week in Ordinary Time, Friday

1 Kings 19:9-16, Psalm 27, Matthew 5:27-32

After a long, thunderous showdown with the prophets of Baal, ending with their destruction, Elijah was a prophet on the run from the wrath of Jezebel. The Lord listened to his complaints under a broom tree, fed him, and strengthened him for a long journey on foot to Mount Horeb. Alone and in silence during his forty day trek, Elijah had a lot of time to reflect on the events that had just taken place. 

He apparently received no directive to hide out in the cave because the Lord asked him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 

He answered: “I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.”

No mention was made of the killing of the prophets of Baal. Elijah’s zeal was interrupted by an unusual theophany:

Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.

Theophanies to Moses on the same mountain involved thunder, lightning and fire. The same God came to Elijah in a gentle whisper. Is this a contradiction?

God is beyond contradictions and paradoxes. The Trinity is infinite and incomprehensible. Yet the infinite took form in finite flesh. The God of thunder and lightning began to be in the womb of a Virgin as a helpless embryo. The God of the silent sound denounced hypocrites. The Word made flesh spoke in figures about the unspeakable.

God cannot be put into a box. Not even the finite form of Christ remained in its earthly state in perpetuity. The destruction of his body released the Triple Light that opened the way for a transfigured humanity. 

All the violence and passion of Adam and his progeny were given free rein to strike God on the Cross. The innocent Lamb called us to wholeness and singleness of eye. Dramatic language about discarding an eye or a hand that causes sin underscores the nothingness of earthly attachments compared with the transfigured life for which we are made. The Triple Glory of the Transfiguration and the Cross is the apex to which a person of single (spiritual) eye is fixed.

“Your presence, O Lord, I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Psalm 27:8b-9a).

-GMC