To Listen with the Heart
One of my students at Siena College was surprised this past week by the mid-term exam!
I’m not sure how:
- …I had stated clearly in the syllabus and in the course calendar that the Midterm exam was going to be conducted on Thursday, March 3rd.
- In fact, on Tuesday, I repeated that information and conducted some simple review with them.
Of course, when she protested on Thursday that she thought it was next Thursday I was tempted to ask her “what part of March 3rd don’t you understand?”
She knew the rules and she heard my words…just like every other student in the class! But apparently that isn’t enough! How right that statement is!
Our first reading from Deuteronomy echoed this sentiment: It is not enough to merely know God’s commandments. And our Gospel affirms that it is also not merely enough to hear Jesus’ words. The “more” that is needed from each one of us—beyond simply knowing and hearing—is to listen with the heart and respond. We must put the spirit of these commandments, of these words of the Master, into action. For faith demands action…it’s ‘action’ that proves the mettle of faith and stands up to the pressures that face us day in and day out as we move throughout the created world.
Surely, if we are to look at any single day, we’ll be able to see just how hard it is to put our authentic faith into real action. We can easily spot where we take the easy way, or the fastest shortcut or the simplest route to a goal…and if we’re honest, we’ll see that we regularly let faith step aside for convenience, or expedience, or plain old laziness.
This Wednesday, as we begin lent, there are 3 traditional ways that we might use in order to not only know God’s commands, but work to hear his words and keep His law of love.
The three traditional disciplines are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Why these three? …In order to maintain our right and just relationships with God and with the world and one another. First, one’s relationship with God is sustained by prayer. Then, being sure one is available to and ready for the Lord, we fast so that we make room for God in our hearts, so that we hunger for His grace. And finally, once we are restored, we go forth from within ourselves to love others, to care for their needs, to give them a share in our own blessings (almsgiving). These disciplines of Lent are not mere gestures or pithy acts to be performed: no, they are intended—and able—to help each one of us be restored to the likeness of God.
In the coming days, may we recall God’s commandments, hear Christ’s words of encouragement, and put our renewed faith into action…proving anew that “we believe”.
God bless you,