To you have I lifted up my eyes,
you who dwell in the heavens.
My eyes, like the eyes of slaves
on the hand of their lords,
like the eyes of a servant
on the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes are on the lord our God,
till he show us his mercy.
Have mercy on us, lord, have mercy.
We are filled with contempt.
Indeed, all too full is our soul
with the scorn of the arrogant,
the disdain of the proud.
It’s a silent psalm full watching.
The lifting of eyes. The muted gaze of slaves upon their masters. The hushed attention with which the servant girl steadies her eyes on the hand of her mistress. The heavens, silent, somewhere beyond the clouds.
Lent is a silent season. A season of watching. We fix our eyes not on the hand of our Lord alone but upon his whole body. We note each scratch, scrape and wound of the one we call master and Lord. Yet the psalmist doesn’t stop with just quiet observation. The focus shifts dramatically from his eyes to the depth of his throat and his gut as he cries out, “Have mercy on us Lord, have mercy. / we are filled with contempt.” He started with his eyes, but we are left—among remorse—in the psalmist’s heart.
It is a great mediation for lent, in fact, all of prayer. So often it starts with our eyes, our eyes upon a word or a devotional image, sometimes a moment or an aspect of creation. Then like the servant our eyes must engage the person to whom the hand belongs, the Living One made present by the word or image. Holy week will fill you with plenty of these words and images to capture your eyes and external senses. May they capture, also, your hearts, and lead you to the person to whom they point, the Crucified Christ. From there, what you say, how you engage him, is up to you.
+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
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