Trinity 4 Sermon 2016
The Old Testament love poem, the Song of Solomon, describes the relationship of Jesus and the Church as that of a Bridegroom and Bride – lovers. In the poem, Christ the Bridegroom woos his spouse, the Church (or more particularly, every individual soul). During the courtship, like so many young lovers, Christ describes his loved one’s eyes: “Behold”, says Christ to the soul, “thou art fair, my love; behold thou art fair; thou hast dove’s eyes”. There is an extraordinary history of commentary on this verse – endless reflections, for example, on the meaning of Christ’s declaration not once but twice that his Beloved is “fair”. But for us this morning I would like to think about the description of the lover’s eyes if only because our lessons this morning are in one sense entirely about vision – the eyes, we might say, not of the body, but of the soul. Thou hast dove’s eyes. For early Christians, this verse referred to the eyes of the heart enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and so one theologian writes: “Christ’s love has dove’s eyes, because every soul which truly loves Him ... is not fired, like hawks, with greed for things without, nor plans evil against any living thing... [It] looks on everything that may happen with [a] simple, gentle, and lowly heart” (Bede). Thou hast dove’s eyes.