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Becoming Two-Eyed

Jean Hoefling

Last supper2 EbayWhen your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light. ~ St. Luke 11:34

 In accurately rendered Orthodox icons of the Mystical Supper of Christ, both eyes of each of the human subjects present are viewable to the observer. Except one, for Judas the traitor is painted in full profile, a single eye exposed. This is a common iconographic technique, to depict evil persons or the demonic obliquely, sometimes smaller and darker, their faces usually obscured. The use of this artistic form serves as powerful theology in the Church to symbolize spiritual and psychic absence — the half self — the body language version of the inner choice to succumb to spiritual disintegration.

Weak and double-minded though the eleven still were on that fateful night the Lord broke bread in their midst, the hearts of these men were ultimately captivated by Christ, a state never rendered more beautifully than in the ardent bending of St. John’s ear toward the locus of the divine pulse. Judas alone moves outside the symmetry of the circle, his one-eyed view and compulsive, grasping movements signaling a departure from the others’ resolve, to bring themselves calmly and fully to the table, as it were, waiting on Christ.

The tilt of our countenance can say it all, and the eyes really are windows to the soul. The Old French root of our word countenance means to contain. We are each image bearers. But we do not yet participate in the full “weight of glory” that grounds one in absolute boldness to face God directly, a state of heart requiring utter integrity to admit just how broken we really are. Yet in icons, even those in three-quarter profile are considered saints. Christ God, above all things, make us two-eyed.