As I get older, I find that I need a magnifying glass to help me read the small print on the labels of soup tins and other things. And if you’ve ever toyed with a magnifying glass you will find that it’s a fascinating instrument. It can reveal beauty and complexity in the smallest of things. But we also find things that we’d rather not know about; like the little creatures that crawl across our skin.
In a similar way, turning a spiritual magnifying glass on ourselves can lead us to rejoice or to cringe. It all depends on what we’re focusing on. We’ve just heard how the guests in the Pharisee’s home are alert for Our Lord’s tiniest slip-up. They scrutinize his every action in search of a reason to accuse and denounce him.
When Our Lord looks at us, he doesn’t search for our faults and failings, rather he looks for traces of God’s image in us. He is on the lookout for every generous thought, every kind deed, and every gracious word. He wants to find them and highlight them so that he can encourage them to grow brighter. Now, of course he also sees our faults and failings. He hears our unkind words and feels our resentments and harsh judgments. But that’s not what he focuses on. He knows they’re there, and he wants us to turn away from them. But his strategy is to help us build up our virtues rather than dwell on our vices. And for that reason alone, we have no reason to cringe under his scrutiny.
So, what do we see when we turn our magnifying glass on other people? Do we criticize or encourage? We may not even need a magnifying glass to see their many faults. But if we look closely we will find things to praise, and we will see Our Lord himself magnified in the people around us. We will become aware of all the ways his life is on display, even if it’s just a glimmer. When we can see that, then we can love them and forgive them, just as Our Lord loves and forgives us.