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Trying to See With Closed Eyes

First Reading: Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13

This word of the LORD came to me:
Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear!

I remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the LORD was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should any presume to partake of them,
evil would befall them, says the LORD.

When I brought you into the garden land
to eat its goodly fruits,
You entered and defiled my land,
you made my heritage loathsome.
The priests asked not,
“Where is the LORD?”
Those who dealt with the law knew me not:
the shepherds rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after useless idols.

Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 36:6-7AB, 8-9, 10-11

R. (10a) With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
O LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven;
your faithfulness, to the clouds.
Your justice is like the mountains of God;
your judgments, like the mighty deep.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
How precious is your mercy, O God!
The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house;
from your delightful stream you give them to drink.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
For with you is the fountain of life,
and in your light we see light.
Keep up your mercy toward your friends,
your just defense of the upright of heart.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 13:10-17

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

NAB

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Today’s Gospel has never been an easy one to understand, but growing up, I had no doubt about my place in it. Of course I was one of the disciples—the ones who could see and understand. I knew Jesus, didn’t I? I had the inside track, the comfortable feeling of knowing the truth.

As the years went by, I grew less confident and less comfortable. The older I got and the more of the world I saw, the less certain I was about most things. I no longer automatically counted myself in the camp of those who had seeing eyes and hearing ears. Many days, I had more questions than answers. I found myself helplessly railing at God, demanding to know why He allowed a particular injustice or suffering. My heart ached with the weight of all that I didn’t understand.

Although I complained loudly to Jesus about being unable to see, when I look back on that time, I see that I had turned my back to Him and was facing the wall with my eyes screwed shut. I was so determined to figure things out on my own that I had shut out the One who could actually show me what I so longed to know.

So often, the biggest obstacle to my understanding Him is me. I’m getting in my own way. It’s my stubbornness that keeps me from being able to truly see what He wants to show me. I’m not one of the disciples, after all . . . I’m one of the gross-hearted ones.

The only solution for this kind of heart-blindness is to sit at Jesus’ feet and let Him show us the truth. We have to admit that we’re broken, then let Him reach in and bring wholeness and healing. Only then can we begin to understand what He has in store for us.

Why is it so hard to let Jesus help our hearts to heal and understand? Why are we afraid to let Him in?

One centuries-old prayer from Scripture that we can turn to when we don’t know what to say is known as “The Jesus Prayer”: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner. When we become aware of being our own biggest obstacle, this prayer is a great place to start. The next time you realize you are struggling against yourself in your quest to know Jesus better, try praying this prayer and let His mercy cover you.

photo credit

Abbey Dupuy writes her life as a homeschooling mama of four while relying on coffee and grace. You can find out more about her here.

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