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Blessed are the Eyes that See.

The Venerable Bede, Priest and Confessor

Translated by M.F. Toale, D.D.

(PL 92, In Lucae Evang. Expositio Lib. III, Cap. X, col. 467)

And turning to his disciples, he said:  Blessed are the eyes that see and the things that you see (Lk. x. 23).

Not the eyes of the Scribes and Pharisees, which see only the Body of the Lord, but blessed those eyes that can see and know His divine secrets, of which He said to the Father: Thou hast revealed them to little ones (v. 21). Blessed are the eyes of the children to whom the Son has deigned to give the grace to know both Himself and the Father.

For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them.
Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see my day: he saw it and rejoiced. Isaias also, and Micheas, and many other Prophets saw the glory of God; and because of this were called Seers. But all these saw Him through a glass in a dark manner, beholding Him and greeting Him from afar, while the Apostles had the Lord before their eyes, eating together with Him, and by questioning Him learning whatever they wished to know, and they had no need whatever to be taught by angels or by any kind of vision. Those whom Matthew more precisely calls prophets and just men, Luke speaks of as many prophets and kings (Mt. xiii. 17). For they are great kings; because they learned how to rule the impulses of temptations; by not yielding to them in surrender, but dominating and subjecting them.

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying: Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?
The lawyer who asked our Lord about eternal life, tempting Him, took occasion to tempt him from, I believe, the Lordís own earlier words, where He had said: Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven. But by this very temptation he makes clear to us, how true is the avowal of the Lord in which He says to the Father: Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones.

But he said to him: What is written in the law? How readest thou? He answering said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
In answering the lawyer, the Saviour sets before us the perfect road to the life of heaven. And to the man saying what is written in the law regarding the love of God and our neighbour, He says for the first time: Thou hast answered right. This do, and thou shalt live. And then when He had related the parable, and when the lawyer had replied that he was neighbour to the wounded man who had showed mercy to him, the Lord says to him for the second time: Go, and do thou in like manner; that is: Remember that it is with such prompt mercy you must love and sustain your neighbour who is in need. And by this He has most clearly revealed to us, that it is charity alone, and not charity made known by word only, but that proved also by deed, which brings us to eternal life.

But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?
How empty the foolishness of vainglory! This lawyer, who according to the judgement of the Lord was wise and learned in the law, first pretends he does not know the command of the Law, not be-cause he desires to humble himself among the little ones of Christ, but to justify himself, to capture the eyes of the crowd, by whom he would then be seen to answer wisely and well; He is not willing humbly to receive the blessed eyes that are doves eyes, washed with the milk of innocence (Cant. iv: I; v, 12) with which he might have seen the hidden things of Christ. But the Lord answers him moderately, in order that He may teach us that every man becomes a neighbour to whomsoever he shows mercy, and at the same time this very parable describes in a special way the Son of God Himself, Who deigned by means of His humanity to become neighbour to us. But we must not so base our idea of the neighbour we are bidden to love as ourselves upon Christ, that we may determine the moral precepts of mutual fraternity by the rules of allegory.

And Jesus answering said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
This man is interpreted as Adam, who stands for mankind. Jerusalem is that heavenly city of peace from whose blessedness he has fallen, and from which he has come down to this mortal and unhappy life. And well does Jericho, which is interpreted as the moon, stand for this ever-changing present life, since like the moon it is ever uncertain in its wanderings and in its changes.

And fell among robbers. Here for robbers understand the devil and his angels, among whom, as he came down, he fell. For had he not first through pride grown big within him, he would not have so easily fallen when tempted from without. True indeed are the words: The spirit is uplifted before a fall (Prov. xvi. i8).

Who also stripped him. They deprived him of the glory of the garment of immortality and innocence. For this is that first robe with which, according to another parable, the prodigal son, returning through repentance (Lk. xv. 22), was adorned, and, having lost it, our first parents saw themselves as naked, and put on the skin garments of a nature now mortal.

And having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead.
The wounds are sins, by means of which they implanted in his weakened body a sort of seedbed (if I may say so) of growing death, profaning the integrity of human nature. They went away, but not as ceasing from their assaults, but to conceal their attacks by craft. They left him half dead; for though they were able to strip him of the blessedness of immortal life, they were not able to deprive him of the power of reason. For in that part of him in which he can taste and know God, man is alive. But in the part that is grown weak from sin and faints from wretchedness, he is dead; defiled by a mortal wound.

And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way; and, seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by.
The Priest and the Levite, who seeing the wounded man passed by, signify the priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament, when the wounds of the clean sick could only be pointed out by the decrees of the Law, but could not be cured by them; for it was impossible (as the Apostle says) that by the blood of calves and lambs or by the blood of goats, sin should be taken away (Heb. x. 4).

But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him was moved with compassion.
The Samaritan, whose name means Defender, stands for the Lord, Whom the Prophet most fittingly implores to save him from falling among these robbers: Keep me from the snare, which they have laid for me, he cries; and from the stumbling-blocks of them that work iniquity (Ps. cxl. 9). He Who for us men and for our salvation, coming down from heaven, took the road of this present life and came near him who there lay perishing of the wounds inflicted on him; that is, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as man (Phil. ii. 7), came close to us in His compassion, and became our neighbour through the consolation of His mercy.

And, going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.
He binds up the sins, which He finds in men, by rebuking them; inspiring with the fear of punishment those who sin, and with hope those who repent. For He binds up our wounds when He commands us: Do penance. He pours in oil, when He adds: For the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt. iv. 17). He pours in wine also, when He says: Every tree that doth not yield good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire (Mt. iii. 10).

And, setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The beast is His own Flesh, in which He deigned to come to us. On It He placed wounded man, because He bore our sins in His Body upon the tree (I. Pet. ii. 24); and according to another parable, laid upon his shoulders the lost sheep that was found, and brought it back to the flock (Lk. xv. 4). And so to be placed upon His own beast, is to believe in the Incarnation of Christ, and to be instructed in Its mysteries, and at the same time to be safeguarded from the assaults of the enemy. The inn is the present Church, where travellers, returning to their eternal home, are refreshed on their journey. And well does He bring to the inn the man He placed upon His own beast; for no one, unless he who is baptized, unless he is united to the Body of Christ, shall enter the Church.

And the next day he took out two pence and gave to the host and said: Take care of him.
The next day is, after the Resurrection of the Lord. For even before this He had, by the grace of His Gospel, enlightened those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death (Lk. i. 79), but after His Resurrection there shone out the mightier splendour of His Perpetual Light. The two pence are the Two Testaments, in which are contained the Name and Image of the Eternal King. For the end of the Law is Christ (Rom. x. 4). These He took out next day, and gave them to the host: for it was then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures (Lk. xxiv. 45). The next day the innkeeper received the denarii, as payment for taking care of the wounded man; for the Holy Spirit coming down, taught the Apostles all truth (Jn. xvi. 13), by means of which they would be able to preach the Gospel and to stand secure in instructing the Gentiles.

And whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee. 
The Innkeeper spends over and above the two pence he received when the Apostle says: Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord; but l give counsel. And again: So also the Lord ordained that they who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel (I Cor. vii. 25; ix. 14). But we have not used this privilege, so as not to be a burden to any of you (I Thess. ii. 9). But at His return, the Debtor will repay what He promised; for the Lord, coming in judgement, shall say: Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord (Mt. xxv. 23).  

Which of these three in thy opinion was neighbour to him that fell among robbers? But he said: He that showed mercy to him.
From these words Christís mind has been made clear to us: That no one is more a neighbour to us than he who shows us mercy: even one who is not a priest of the city of Jerusalem, even one not a Levite from the same race, even if both were born and reared in the same city, but one was of another race; for it was rather he who was merciful, who became a neighbour. But, receiving this in its more sacred sense, since no one is more our neighbour than He who has healed our wounds let us love Him as the Lord our God, let us love Him as our neighbour. For nothing is so close as the head is to the members. Let us also love him who is an imitator of Christ. For this is what follows.

And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner; that is, show that you truly love your neighbour as yourself; doing with love whatever you can do to help him, also in his spiritual necessities, to the praise and glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen.