It doesn’t matter if you are on the stage or in the sanctuary, or subject in a painting, it matters where your eyes are focused. In a painting it matters because your eyes direct the viewer. For an easy example, think of every painting you’ve ever seen of the manger at Christmas. Look at anybody’s eyes and their stare will lead you back to the baby Jesus. Often even the ox and ass (rarely the sheep) are staring, mysteriously mesmerized by Him as if he had snacks hidden in his swaddling clothes. Their stare constantly draws your eyes back to Him also.
There is a painting in my dentist’s office (shown below) that shows about 5 people looking off into the distance at something out of the range of the painting. The viewer is left wondering, “What are they looking at? Of what am I being left out? Who are these people? What is the NAME of this painting so that it may give me a clue? Are they waiting for fireworks? Is it the sunset? Are there buffalo out on the range?
As it turns out this painting is called, “People Out in the Sun” by Edward Hopper (1960) and these awkward looking people are actually manikins placed within the field of a nuclear bomb test to see how it would effect humans. Suddenly this is a very interesting if not disturbing painting.
But I digress.
If you are on stage (and you are a good actor that doesn’t want to steal focus), your eyes are GLUED to what is going happening on stage so that if an audience member looks at you, their eyes are directed back to the action (unless the action is particularly bad and you are particularly interesting looking.) If you are looking elsewhere, people will look to see at what you are looking. If an altar server is looking into the sacristy and smiling instead of paying attention to the consecration, people who inadvertently look at the server will start to wonder what he is looking at instead of being present at the Mass.
If you are a community leader and someone else is speaking before a crowd, you look at the person speaking and are not gossiping with your neighbor. Because of who you are, people will take their cue from you. (Not important to him, maybe it shouldn’t be so important to me.)
So it is with life. Our eyes must be firmly set on Jesus and eternal life. When we focus too much on the things of the world, especially if we are leaders, bosses, parents, elders, popular figures, then we tempt others to forget about keeping their attention on that which is true, eternal, and most important and are distracted by trying to find out what is so fascinating about things that will pass.