LENTEN DEVOTION for Wednesday, February 23


God of my friend and stranger: clarify my vision, heighten my senses that I might see you in those I meet this day.


Abba Apollo said, "When you see your sister or brother, you have seen the Lord your God." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you..." (Matt. 25:37)  


It is quite a thing to see God. Moses was favored in God's sight, but still Moses was not permitted to see God. He pleaded, "Show me your glory, I pray." But God said, "you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live" (cf. Exodus 33:17-23).

Fast forward to a time when God decides to be seen in Jesus of Nazareth. Now, God will be seen in the human face. Indeed, God must be seen in the human face. Late in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked by those who see him in the needy, naked and imprisoned. Those who see God in the least of these will live.

Abba Apollo helps us clarify what is being said here. It is not the case that we look through the person in order to see God. No, it is when we actually see a person for who they are that we see God. We have to take notice. Observe the humanity. Acknowledge the inherent worth. Identify the particular, the uniqueness. We have to slow down as we pass by one another. We must listen closely. We simply need to stop sorting out people according to who benefits us and who doesn't. It is incumbent upon us to perceive the humanity--the divine dignity--in others. That is, if we wish to see God.

In the next chapter of Exodus, Moses talks to God. We don't know what of God he has seen, but we know it changed him. The Hebrew teachers say his face shined. It radiated. That is, his countenance changed. Seeing God where God wants to be seen will change us. And God wants to be seen in the neighbor.


Prayerfully consider those you most often pass by in your day. Think about what it will take to really see them, see them as God sees them. Prepare to be changed.  

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