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Windows to the Soul

Matthew 18:15-20

The Rev. Jon Roberts

4 September


Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Windows to the Soul

After the rain, Cyril Rolando, 2013

The eyes are the windows to your soul.
What we choose to let in can be our salvation
or can get us into big trouble. [1]

Two little boys, ages eight and ten, were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew if any mischief occurs in their town, the two boys were probably involved. The boys' mother heard that a priest in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The priest agreed, but he asked to see them individually. The mother sent the eight-year old in the morning, with the older boy to see the priest in the afternoon. The priest, a huge man with a deep booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Do you know where God is, son?" Wide-eyed and mouth dropped open, the boy made no response; So the priest repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?!" Again, the boy made no attempt to answer.

The priest raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "WHERE is GOD?!" The boy screamed & bolted from the room, ran directly home & dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, "What happened?" The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time!"
"GOD is missing, and they think WE did it!"

There is little doubt; God is missing in our lives, when we open our eyes to let dishonorable things inside. This is where we find ourselves in big trouble. The psalmist reinforces this; "Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in your ways."[2] Indeed, the eyes are the windows to your soul. Addictive, they are, the vices, but so also are the virtues.[3] We, as human beings, choose. And if the choice becomes a pattern, then the pattern becomes our life; It becomes our character.

Of course the emphasis in today's reading from the Book of Ezekiel shares this moral understanding.[4] If the psalmist focused on forming a pattern of virtues, the prophet focuses on forming a pattern of vice; those things that lead us into wickedness; those things that are worthless. What happens when we have opened the windows to things that remove God in our lives? Simple, says Ezekiel; You are to, "turn back, turn back from your evil ways." God knows that sometimes our window casings get a little stuck. We can't budge them to close out the vices or open up for the virtues. That is why he sends others to help and support. If we are living a godly life we are called to help others see, what they don't. We are to help others by confronting their ill-chosen patterns. We are to help others by exhorting their excellent ways. There is a moral responsibility that we share. This stems out of love for others.

When a person chooses a life addicted to vice, they are out to love only themselves and this will often lead to selfish destruction. "Let love be genuine," says St. Paul to the Romans. "Hate what is evil. Hold fast to what is good; "Love one another with brotherly affection."[5] When a brother or sister is ridden by sin and they hurt you, do not repay them with hurting them back. Do not ignore them or push them away. Go to them and feed them and give them something to drink. It is not what they expect and their evilness will be overcome by your goodness. If this does not succeed in helping them to open or close a window, then ask someone else to go along with you next time.

When two or three are gathered together, in His Name, we find it is Christ who gives us the strength. The things that bind our windows now, will bind them afterwards. A perfect case in hand is what I've shared often with people who suffer from relational crises. They are hurt by another person's comments. They write them off as being difficult and strange. They see the person coming, and so they walk the other way. They try not to make eye contact. They talk about the person behind their back. This is where we find ourselves in BIG trouble. Our tendencies to be afraid of what might happen binds our own window.
We must loosen them by praying to God, asking Him to be present in our lives and to give us understanding; "[Help us] turn away the reproach which we dread, because your judgments are good." [6] This may come with great suffering as the choice seems very hard for many of us, so we plead, “God forbid it!”[7] But God is merciful and just if we call out to Him; if we open ourselves to His life in us.
"Help us Lord, for our eyes are the windows to our soul."

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Ps 119:37
[3] Max Beerbohm, 1872-1956, actor ("I need no dictionary of quotations to remind that the eyes are the windows to the soul.")
[4] Ezekiel 33:11
[5] Romans 12:9-21
[6] Ps 119:39
[7] Matthew 16:21-28

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