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The LOOK that tells you who you are

Some men are mending fishing nets along the shore. Jesus comes to them, gives them the LOOK. They drop everything, nets and family, and follow him for the rest of their lives.

I often wonder about that LOOK. And more and more I long for it.

In the universe, there must be a look, the LOOK, which, upon having it trained on me – on you, on each of us – resolves forever who we are. Forever.

Only Jesus can give this LOOK.

You try going up to a bunch of seasoned men hardened by the daily grind of fishes, nets and the sea. You try getting them to drop everything to follow, ahem, you. Good luck.

But Jesus … what did that LOOK look like?

The Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Bathasar remarks that what normally defines us as persons – form, figure, relationship, personal name, home, time and place, even heredity, upbringing and personality – all of these do not “get beyond an accumulation of accidents.”

Beyond all of these contingent things, who am I? What is ME?

Bathasar: The answer comes only from … “the absolute subject, from God. There, where God tells a spirit-subject to its face who it is … where he tells it in the same breath why it exists, thus conferring on it its divinely attested mission, there it can be said … that it is a person."


It transcends doctrine on paper. It transcends principles in the head. It must have been aesthetical. The feel of it must have been like nothing else in the universe.

And I yearn for that LOOK, so that I can finally know who I am.


Matthew 4.18-22 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Hans Urs von Bathasar, ""The human being as person," in The von Bathasar Reader, edited by Medard Kehl and Werner Loser (New York: Crossroad Herder), 91.


Daniel Leslie Peterson March 30, 2009 at 6:50 AM  

Thank you for your reflection. It reminds me of another aspect of The Look of our Lord, one we can never yearn for, yet one we no doubt all experience, that reveals to us who we are, who He is. In the four Gospel accounts only Luke emphasizes, "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered ... and wept bitterly. (22:61-62, NIV)

Brad March 30, 2009 at 8:01 AM  

Excellent!! Really got me thinking David.

So much of the Christian faith focuses on our LOOK towards God, and it should, but not to the neglect of that LOOK Jesus has directed in our direction. A look straight into our eyes, piercing directly into our soul. It may not be a face to face physical look today. Perhaps right now it can only be a look that comes through His life, His actions, and the words written down about it through the Holy Spirit. Or maybe it comes through acts of faith done for us by others or through us to others. (Matthew 25:31-46)

Like you David I yearn for that LOOK and its full impact on me. The hope is that one day we will have the full force of that physical look that the disciples and others of the time received face to face.

I visualize the LOOK in the form of a huge smile, but much more than a smile. Maybe I am being a little simpleminded here, but I can't wait for that day and the full impact of that LOOK.

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