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God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open. All have eyes, but some have eyes that are shrouded in darkness, unable to see the light of the sun. Because the blind cannot see it, it does not follow that the sun does not shine. The blind must trace the cause back to themselves and their eyes. In the same way, you have eyes in your mind that are shrouded in darkness because of your sins and evil deeds.

Saint Theophilus of Antioch, bishop

From today's Office of Readings (at the Universalis website) comes the above quote from St. Theophilus. The part that really caught my attention is in bold print. The main point in the passage is whether or not all people can see God. He says that this depends on whether or not the individual has the eyes of his mind and ears of his heart open in order to perceive God. This calls to mind what our Lord had to say in Matthew 11, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Both our Lord and St. Theophilus are referring to mankind's spiritual perception: can mankind know God – can we know the Truth? Unlike physical blindness and deafness, spiritual blindness and deafness can be overcome by those who truly want to overcome it. (The only possible exception to this would be those who are in a state of invincible ignorance. Those in this state cannot know the Truth because it isn't accessible to them. For instance, someone born in a remote village, which has never been told the Gospel, can therefore never know the Truth Jesus has revealed to us. On the other hand, that same person can know the natural law, which as the Catechism tells us, “is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man” [CCC §1954].)

In a country such as our own, with information readily available, there is no reason that someone with even less than average intelligence should not be able to know the Truth. Of course the Truth is often obscured by Satan and his lies but, if someone truly wants to reach the Truth, then it is possible to overcome those lies. For instance, even the most hardened abortionist can know his actions are immoral and evil if he would only take the time to look through the lies that surrround him: it is only a blob of tissue, it is the choice of the mother, it is only a potential human life, blah, blah, blah. But what happens all too often is that he chooses to stay in his ignorance because the Truth is too inconvenient: he would lose his livelihood or have to deal with the psychological consequences (and eternal consequences) of all the babies he killed.

Therefore the answer is no, not everyone can see God, who is the Truth, because they don't want to see. This is a sad situation and not just because people in such circumstances are miserable here on this earth. Instead, it is eternity and the fate of their souls that are the primary cause for concern. And this is why our Lord has called His followers to have love, or charity, for all people – even their enemies. Dietrich von Hildebrand puts it this way, “Charity…pierces through to the incomparable value of a personal being destined to love God and to be united with Him.” (The Heart, p.80) We, as followers of Christ, must desire Heaven not only for ourselves but for all mankind.

Borrowing from St. Theophilus above – just because the spiritually blind and deaf cannot perceive the Truth, it does not follow that the Truth does not exist. Followers of Christ are called to learn the Truth that has been revealed to them and, to the best of our ability, to pass it on to others. Often it may fall on deaf ears, like those who choose to remain ignorant, but that does not relieve us of the obligation to love them. If they will not listen to the Truth then pray for them. Pray that God will do what is necessary to bring them to the point that they willingly accept it. As was said earlier, the consequences of this are eternal. Let us pray that the spiritually blind will, in the end, be able to see God.

 

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