The Word Among Us

June 2006 Issue

Love Is Blind

How Does Jesus See Us?

A recent study by scientists at University College in London gave proof to the saying that love is blind. Researchers studying the brain found that feelings of love can lead to a suppression of activity in the areas of the brain that control critical and judgmental thoughts.

The researchers monitored the brain activity of twenty young mothers as they were shown pictures of their children and of their loved ones. In both cases, the pictures produced increased positive feelings in the women, along with significantly reduced levels of activity in the part of the brain that controls negative judgments.

Commenting on their findings, lead scientist Dr. Andreas Bartels said, "Our research enables us to conclude that human attachment . . . deactivates networks used for critical social assessment and negative emotions, while it bonds individuals through the involvement of the 'reward circuitry,' explaining the power of love to motivate and exhilarate."

His Love Is Blind. So what does all this scientific jargon have to do with eucharistic adoration? Simply this: When we come before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we are not the only ones doing the looking and gazing. Jesus himself fixes his gaze on us, and as he looks at us, he is filled with such love and passion that it is as if his love is just as "blind" as the love of the young mothers in the study. When he sees us, Jesus is filled with an over-abundance of tenderness, mercy, love, and affection.

Of course, Jesus is not really blind. Naturally, he sees the anger, the jealousy, the lust, or the greed that is lurking in our hearts. But he also looks beyond these faults and failings. His vision penetrates deeper and it ranges wider than our sin. He also sees our deepest longings for love, our hidden desires for holiness, and even his own plans and intentions to transform us and fill us with his divine life and power.

Think of some famous sinners in the Bible who allowed God's loving gaze to pierce their hearts. There was the "sinful woman" in Luke 7:36-50, who anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. There was the prodigal son, who was reinstated to sonship with no strings attached (15:11-32). There was Matthew, the tax collector, who left his livelihood to follow Jesus (Matthew 9:9-13). Even Peter, at one point filled with guilt over having denied knowing Jesus, was reinstated—no questions asked—when Jesus fixed his loving gaze on him (21:15-17). Over and over again, Jesus' look of love simply melted away the sin and filled people with the hope of a new beginning.

When you come to Jesus in eucharistic adoration, remember one thing: His loving gaze is already fixed on you. Yes, you may need to repent for your sins. Yes, you may need to fix some broken or divided relationships. Yes, you may need inner healing over past hurts. But whether you are perfectly right with Jesus or not—and being right is, of course, a better position—he sees and dwells on all that is good and beautiful and commendable in you.

We Bring Jesus Joy. So this is what Jesus sees. But what does he think or feel when he sees us this way? Joy. Happiness. Love.

It has always been this way. Centuries before Christ, when God was confronting the people of Israel with numerous infidelities, he spoke a surprising word through the prophet Hosea. Rather than pledges of judgment, punishment, and wrath, God asked:

"How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath." (Hosea 11:8-9)

If a sinful nation can still move God to tenderness and compassion, and if little children can fill Jesus' heart with love and joy, imagine how much happiness we bring to Jesus! We are trying to do what is right. We want to be pleasing to the Lord—even if we are not always successful. Simply to come to him during a time of adoration must bring a smile to his face!

Again, when little children wanted to be with Jesus, he happily welcomed them and blessed them. He even told his disciples that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who come to him like little children (Mark 10:13-15).

Finally, let's take a look at another woman who poured perfume over Jesus. In this story, Jesus was eating dinner at a friend's house when a woman came in with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus' head, letting the ointment run down his hair. Some who saw this extravagant act became indignant and rebuked her. "Why was the ointment wasted in this way?" they asked. "It could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." But Jesus told them to leave her alone. "She has performed a good service for me" (Mark 14:3-7).

Our lives are like that expensive perfume. It pleases the Lord when we pour out our lives in service to the poor, the sick, and the hurting. But at the same time, Jesus also loves it when we pour out our lives on him in love and worship. He is so happy when we come to him in adoration and "waste" our time, our attention, and our lives gazing upon him and letting him gaze upon us.

Taking the Long View. So far, we've spoken about how Jesus sees beyond our sin to who he created and intends us to be. We've also spoken about how much joy we bring to his heart when we spend time adoring him in the Blessed Sacrament. Now let's look at one final point. When we visit Jesus, he rejoices over all that we are doing for him. He never says, "It's not enough. You need to serve me more." He never says, "You're not faithful enough to me. You need to work harder." Rather, he blesses us and pours out his love on us, knowing that this is enough to compel us. He tells us how pleased he is with us, and that experience of God's pleasure motivates us to lay down even more of our lives. To put it more simply, his love for us calls more love out of us.

Jesus sees how we will be over time. He sees our potential. He knows all of our talents. And when we open ourselves to his loving gaze, he gives us a taste of who we can become in him. He gives us a glimpse of what life will be like when we are finally united with him forever. And in that glimpse, he tells us, "I can't wait for the day when you will be with me in heaven. I can't wait for the day when you will share fully in my love and goodness." It may be hard to believe, but Jesus is even more eager to be with us than we are to be with him!

Enjoy the Love of Jesus. If you stand next to someone who has put on too much perfume, you'll find that some of the scent actually clings to you after that person has gone. That's one way of thinking about what happens when we are with Jesus in eucharistic adoration. The aroma of his holiness rubs off on us. It lifts us up to heaven, even as it makes us more pleasing and attractive to the people around us.

So during eucharistic adoration, trust that Jesus loves you and that he is pleased with your coming to be with him. Trust that he dwells on who you are in him, and not as you typically think of yourself. See how he overlooks your failings and simply enjoys being near to you. Know that he has a super-abundance of love and peace to pour upon you. And finally, dare to believe that you bring joy to his heart simply by coming to sit at his feet and gaze upon him in love.