DISTANCE TO HOLINESS

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‘I  appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies  as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is  your spiritual worship’ (Rom 12:1).  Indeed  our God places a high premium on our holiness.  It is because our  bodies, though  sown in  dishonor, are to be raised in glory (1 Cor 15:42).  It will one day  pass from  weakness to power, says the apostle.

Paul’s letters are full of exhortations reminding us to be   careful in this vital area. As Christians we are called to holiness. ‘For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness’ (1 Thess 4:7). God has revealed his heart  in the following verses. ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from  fornication; that  each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God’ (2 Thess. 4:3-5).

We communicate with the  outer world  through our senses.  These five senses are also the  doors through which  the filth of this world enters  our  hearts. Of these five senses, Lord Jesus Christ considers the eye  as  one major reason that is capable of  leading us to sin. ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out  and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for  your whole body  t0 be thrown into hell’ (Mt 5:29). Jesus gives this difficult teaching while  talking about  adultery. ‘But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed  adultery with her in his heart’ (Mt 5:28). In a world where cell phones, internet, cinema and social media are  spreading the vicious net of lust  before our  eyes, our options  shrink to  just one thing; control our eyes.

It has been the practice of many priests and monks to keep their eyes focussed  just in front of their feet. They  never  allowed their eyes to  gaze as they liked. They have learned how to avoid looking at persons and things beyond a certain distance.   For our generation, it will be a surprise to know that  the Typicon (the rule book for  spiritual life  prescribed by  religious congregations to its members)  of many  congregations contained a clause that  they should limit their vision to  persons and things just  in front of them  by specifying a  distance of  three  meters  for their eyes. They  knew that the eye is the lamp of the body. ‘So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light (Mt 6:22). For them  keeping  their eyes within the self imposed  limits was the only way to keep them healthy in their Lord’s eyes.

David was  so blessed to be commended by  God in words that will be  the envy of every person. ‘I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man  after  my heart, who will carry  out all my wishes’  (Acts 13:23). But David’s  undoing was the result of permitting his eyes to wander   and reach  places where they should  never  have reached.  On the other hand Job controlled his eyes with the  help of a covenant. ‘I have  made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin?’ (Job 31:1). The Book of Proverbs tells us about God’s wish regarding our eyes. ‘Let your eyes look  directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you’ (Prov. 4:25). John the Apostle, whose inner eyes were opened to see things as far as the end of times, once wrote about  certain things that are not from the Father. Of them one is ‘ the desire of the eyes’  (1 Jn 2:16).

Blessed are those who fix their eyes in the Lord. ‘He will  wipe away every tear from  their eyes’ (Rev 7:17)

Let us pray:

Our Father in heaven, whose eyes are ten thousand times brighter than the sun,  You have  given us  our  eyes as  lamps for  our bodies.  May our eyes see nothing  impure. We pray for  your grace to keep our  eyes holy till the  moment  they  close forever. Amen.

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