Hearing Jesus


I was prompted by a blog the other day to reread Luke Chapter Ten. It appears to be a chapter in three parts, emphasizing a single, critical message. In the umpteenth reading of this chapter, I had never quite seen it in this way before; I joyfully share my new insights with you here.

Part 1

The chapter begins as Jesus appoints and sends out 72 new disciples in pairs to preach the Good News. He clearly instructs them to stay in homes where they are welcomed in peace and where those inside are willing to hear the message of love and grace. They are told to wipe the dust from their feet and leave a town that rejects them. Jesus says, “The one who hears you hears me; the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects Him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)

The 72 returned “with joy” at all they were able to do. “Even demons are subject to us in your name.” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Jesus was aware every moment his disciples saved someone and freed them from the enemy’s grip.

Yet he also reminded them what was important: “Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven…Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:20, 23-24)

Part 2

Behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Since it’s a lawyer asking the questions, Jesus responds with an appropriate question: “What’s written in the law? How do you read it?”

The lawyer responds predictably and correctly: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus, knowing what’s coming, answers: “You’re correct.”

But seeking to justify himself and entrap Jesus, the lawyer asks a follow-up question: “And who is my neighbor.”

What follows is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).

The encounter with the lawyer (and the parable of the Good Samaritan) is about whether the lawyer ultimately hears Jesus or rejects him, by showing or not showing mercy to his neighbors.

Part 3

The chapter concludes with Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary. Martha is distracted with the “doingness” of preparing the meal. She appears to ‘test’ Jesus by challenging him to rebuke her younger sister Mary who sits at his feet and listens to his teaching. The chapter ends with Jesus saying, “…one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.

Mary chose to hear Jesus.

The exciting thing I was allowed to “hear” in this reading was the incredible blessing of spiritual hearing and sight.  It seems the Lord reveals the mystery of His Word to me as He deems me ready to hear it.

At the same time, I believe much of God’s revelation has to do with love. As I am more willing and able to receive His love, I am transformed by it, and in the transformation I am more able to comprehend His Word.

On the other hand, if I close my heart to the grandiosity of God’s love, if I hold onto lifelong beliefs and cling to the safety of laws and rules instead of allowing transformation into the unknown – even if the unknown is the heart of Jesus and the arms of the Father – I will reject His blessing.


In a hopeful note, there is another dinner honoring Jesus recorded by the apostle John. It was six days before his final supper, after Jesus had raised Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus from the dead. (At that time, Martha revealed to Jesus “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” John 11:27) Once again Martha served dinner – simply served. And Mary anointed Jesus with an entire bottle of fragrant, expensive perfume. (John 12:1-3)

Now, both sisters could hear.


For a poetry version of this post, see Hearing Jesus

Thanks to Matt Brumage and paulfg for the inspiration for this post

All our love must be for God

good-sam-glassFrom the treatise On Spiritual Perfection by Diadochus of Photice, bishop
All our love must be for God

No one who is in love with himself is capable of loving God. The man who loves God is the one who mortifies his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator. Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognized from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own abasement. Because of his great majesty it is fitting that God should receive glory, but if he hopes to win God’s favor it becomes man to be humble. If we possess this love for God, we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish.

I know a man who, though lamenting his failure to love God as much as he desires, yet loves him so much that his soul burns with ceaseless longing for God to be glorified, and for his own complete effacement. This man has no feeling of self importance even when he receives praise. So deep is his desire to humble himself that he never even thinks of his own dignity. He fulfills his priestly duty by celebrating the Liturgy, but his intense love for God is an abyss that swallows up all consciousness of his high office. His humility makes him oblivious of any honor it might bring him, so that in his own estimation he is never anything but a useless servant. Because of his desire for self abasement, he regards himself as though degraded from his office. His example is one that we ourselves should follow by fleeing from all honor and glory for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of God’s love, for he has loved us so much!

Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.

Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As the Apostle says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake.

An Open Life

white rose

Sometimes, the love of God overwhelms me. When I think back on my life before I loved Him in return, it was empty. I couldn’t see Him. I didn’t recognize His daily miracles. I wasn’t aware of His grace and mercy. I was unable to comprehend the deep peace He offers – a peace completely beyond my understanding, but one I feel down to my core.

Living life open to God’s love allows me to glimpse others through His love and treat them as His beloved son or daughter.

Living life open to God’s blessings allows me to see what a blessing others are and to be a blessing to them.

Living life open to God’s correction allows me to know being right is just not that important, and to welcome the correction of others into my own imperfect life.

Living life open to God’s timing allows me to empathize with the suffering of others, and to remind myself that His timing in my life is always better than my own.

Living life open to God’s Spirit allows me to speak His agenda instead of mine, walk His path instead of mine, and help someone else see His light instead of me.

Living a life open to God’s grace and forgiveness allows me to extend grace when others need it, forgive them when they don’t ask for it, and forgive myself when no one else will.

Living life open to God’s living water allows me to just live for today, to encourage someone today, to pray for someone today, and to admit I need God today.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please keep my heart open to You. Let me know You and love You more each day. Allow me to be Your lamp, so Your light shines through me. “Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:8)