This prayer comes up every year on the third Sunday of Easter – not the third Sunday after Easter, but of Easter, because Easter, as Fr. Gene reminded us last week, is 50 days long. Easter has 7 Sundays in it, and this is the third, and every year the church asks us to pray these words: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work.
We see over and over in the resurrection appearances in the Gospels how difficult it was for the disciples to grasp what was right in front of them, Jesus Christ in his resurrected body. They needed their eyes opened. Remember, Mary Magdalene didn’t even recognize Jesus at first; she thought he was the cemetery gardener. Last week, Thomas simply told the other disciples he didn’t believe them when they said they had met the risen Christ. Just doesn’t happen. No way. And today, the writer Luke piles up adjectives to convey how tough it was for them to see what was right in front of them: “startled, terrified, frightened, disbelieving, wondering.”
Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work. Without the eyes of our faith opened by the direct action of God, what we will behold is Jesus in part of his redeeming work. We’ll see the part we’re inclined to want to see, or the part we already approve of. We can only go so far in understanding God without God’s help, or as a friend of mine says, it takes God to know God. The assumptions we carry and the blinders we wear as we come to the Bible affect how much of what’s there we are able to behold. This may be especially so when the topic is the Risen Christ and what his resurrection means and does.