To Hear and Understand

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Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time 

Memorial of St. John Mary Vianney, Priest

Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14

Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.” He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” Then his disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.”

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I look to you with love, confident I will receive all good things from your hands. I open my heart to hear with faith what you want to say to me. Lord, I humbly ask for the grace to grow ever more deeply in sync with you, allowing you to transform my natural vision to a supernatural one. 

  1. Encountering Christ:“Hear and Understand”: How often we esteem others for their words or actions only to be disappointed and surprised by their misbehavior. Jesus taught the crowd that external practices and things people say are not measures of holiness. Only the Lord can judge the heart, and he cautions us to keep our hearts pure so that our mouths speak only the goodness we contain within. “A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit” (Psalm 51:12).
  2. Interiority: Our Lord told the crowd and he says to us, “Hear and understand.” We begin to “hear and understand” when we meditate on Our Lord’s words in Scripture. At first, meditation can require hard work—focusing one’s attention, placing oneself in the presence of God, spending time reflecting on small sections of Scripture at a time. Day by day, God gives us understanding (a gift of the Holy Spirit), opening our ears and our hearts to more deeply know and love him. When we put this effort into our prayer, it’s as if Jesus is making the Sign of the Cross over us, blessing us now and for all eternity.
  3. Blindness: When the blind lead the blind, both fall into a pit. The evil one can be very active when souls resolve to pray faithfully every day. Most times, an external spiritual director or someone knowledgeable and experienced in the spiritual life can confirm and orient us. Many great saints had equally great spiritual directors. “The Holy Spirit gives to certain of the faithful the gifts of wisdom, faith and discernment for the sake of this common good which is prayer (spiritual direction). Men and women so endowed are true servants of the living tradition of prayer” (CCC 2690). Feeling called to become a spiritual director? Or seeking one? Begin here.

Conversing with Christ: Lord, grant me the grace to recognize your voice and understand your words with supernatural insight. 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my judgments about others and seek to rectify anything that is based merely on hearsay or external practice. 

For Further Reflection: Thomas H. Green has published numerous books on prayer including Opening to God for beginners, When the Well Runs Dry for those at an intermediate stage, and Drinking from a Dry Well for those advanced in the practice of prayer. A synopsis of “How to Do a Meditation” can be found in The Better Part, by Fr. John Bartunek, on the front and back flap.

Written by Renee Pomarico.

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