“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23)

Jesus spoke these words to a people whose eyes might be drawn occasionally to their neighbor’s house or crops or cattle. But today he speaks them to a people whose eyes are constantly bombarded with images from television, the Internet, billboards, and movies. Because we are subjected to so much visual clut­ter and temptation, we need to be doubly alert to the effect that these images have on our hearts.

“But I do all the things I am sup­posed to do,” we may reply. “I go to Mass and Confession. I try to be kind and generous. How can it be that my eyes are still shrouded in darkness?” It is possible, sadly, because much of what comes at us occurs when we aren’t at Mass or out serving the poor. Much of it hap­pens in our down time, when we are relaxing in front of the TV or casually surfing the Internet.

We shouldn’t have to turn off our TVs altogether or stay offline until Jesus comes again. But we can strat­egize. We can try to find other ways to relax and find entertainment. We can set limits on the amount of time we will spend in front of the vari­ous screens in our lives. We can be a little more discerning about which sites we will visit and which shows we will watch. And most important, we can decide to take some of our screen time and spend it reading Scripture or learning about the life of a saint.

A 2010 survey showed that on average, Americans spent 2.7 hours a day watching television, and a 2011 survey showed that Americans spent an average of thirty hours online a month. That’s a lot of time! Imagine what it would be like if we were to spend only one-quarter of that time in prayer and reading. The more we fix our eyes on the Lord, the more we will find our treasure in him. The more time we spend with Jesus, the clearer our vision will be—and the more clearly we will see his handi­work in everything else around us!

“Jesus, help me to fix my eyes on you, so that my heart can become a pure reflection of your love.”

2 Kings 11:1-4,9-18,20 Psalm 132:11-14,17-18