Amor dat oculos

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Seeing is not believing; believing is seeing.

Jesus: "For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear."

"Love gives eyes to see, and sight inflames the heart."[1]

"Oculus" is a regular second-declension noun; "oculos" is the accusative plural form of the word. I habitually misspell this word and put it in the wrong case. One "c", not two; "oculos" not "occulis"! (I'm sure that I am misled by the near homonym, "occult" in English, which is from an entirely different root.

This is, in a sense, a dangerous teaching. Misunderstanding it leads to all kinds of enthusiasms that can lead people out of the heart of the Church instead of deeper into it. This has happened countless times in history, most notably in various forms of Pentacostalism.] But we don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is a truth of the faith that we see things differently--and must see things differently--as a consequence of being "born again" by Baptism.

We cannot serve Jesus without a vision; but all of our visions must be subject to a Catholic discernment of spirits.

Matthew 13:11-13

11 He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.[2]

12 To anyone who has, more will be given[3] and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away

13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’ [4]

Luke 8:9-10

9 Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be.

10 He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that ‘they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.’

Mark 4:11-12

11 He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables,[5]

12 so that ‘they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.’”

John 16:12-14

12 “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

13 But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.[6] He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.

14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.


  1. Francis de Sales, Of the love of God, last line of chapter III, p. 184.
  2. Since a parable is figurative speech that demands reflection for understanding, only those who are prepared to explore its meaning can come to know it. To understand is a gift of God, granted to the disciples but not to the crowds. In Semitic fashion, both the disciples’ understanding and the crowd’s obtuseness are attributed to God. The question of human responsibility for the obtuseness is not dealt with, although it is asserted in Mt 13:13. The mysteries: as in Lk 8:10; Mk 4:11 has “the mystery.” The word is used in Dn 2:18, 19, 27 and in the Qumran literature (1Qp Heb 7:8; 1QS 3:23; 1QM 3:9) to designate a divine plan or decree affecting the course of history that can be known only when revealed. Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven means recognition that the kingdom has become present in the ministry of Jesus.
  3. In the New Testament use of this axiom of practical “wisdom” (see Mt 25:29; Mk 4:25; Lk 8:18; 19:26), the reference transcends the original level. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (note the “theological passive,” more will be given, what he has will be taken away).
  4. Because ‘they look…or understand’: Matthew softens his Marcan source, which states that Jesus speaks in parables so that the crowds may not understand (Mk 4:12), and makes such speaking a punishment given because they have not accepted his previous clear teaching. However, his citation of Is 6:9–10 in Mt 13:14 supports the harsher Marcan view.
  5. These verses are to be viewed against their background in Mk 3:6, 22 concerning the unbelief and opposition Jesus encountered in his ministry. It is against this background that the distinction in Jesus’ method becomes clear of presenting the kingdom to the disbelieving crowd in one manner and to the disciples in another. To the former it is presented in parables and the truth remains hidden; for the latter the parable is interpreted and the mystery is partially revealed because of their faith; see notes on Mt 13:11 and Mt 13:13.
  6. Declare to you the things that are coming: not a reference to new predictions about the future, but interpretation of what has already occurred or been said.