To surrender to God is part of the Lenten journey, and it requires that we trust God to have our best interests in mind even if we do not understand the process. This means that what we are attempting to achieve in our spiritual growth is to step aside and let God guide the way, something which He does not force upon us, but offers in love. It is the ultimate act of our love for Him that we affirmatively respond. To do this, we must listen to find out what it is that God is asking or telling us; if we do not learn to listen to Him we will have all sorts of false ideas about what we fear He might ask, instead of considering that He desires what will help us grow closer to Him. In short, He wants to love us into Paradise, that we would be with Him for eternity.
- On the fourth Sunday we hear about a man born blind. Interestingly, the man does not ask for healing in this story, but rather Jesus freely offers it to him. Jesus instructs the man, who follows directions exactly as given; he truly listens to Jesus. After he is healed this man is able to courageously relate exactly what happened because he has focused his attention totally on Jesus, responding with gratitude for the gift. Because he had listened, he finds Jesus again, recognizing the One whose face he had never seen. It is only because he recognized Love that this was possible. His surrender in trust and his ability to listen attentively enabled him to know Jesus so completely that he could attest that Jesus was the Son of God.
May we have the courage to ask the Lord to help us learn to listen more attentively! May we desire to refocus our attention away from ourselves and turn it toward others! May we learn how to greet Jesus in the people we encounter! May we learn how to discern that which leads us closer to God by listening to the movements within our own heart as well as that which is around us! May we spend time letting the Gospels speak to our heart! And may we be moved outward toward our brothers and sisters, ministering through the sincere listening that comes with love and mercy! Let us continue to meet in the heart of Jesus! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
* The quote is found in the February, 2018 issue of Magnificat and it is from Jem Sullivan, a writer on art, catechesis, and the New Evangelization. Note that the painting depicted here is not the same as the one in Magnificat.
Note: Next post March 26.
1. This is a photo which I took of Lyttleton Harbour just outside of Christchurch, New Zealand. There was a regatta of some sort going on, and in this photo you can see the boats just after the start of the race. I chose to use it here because the racers must focus on conditions and the positions of the markers, the other boaters, etc. They cannot afford to focus on themselves.
2. The second image is a painting of St. Scholastica and her twin brother, St. Benedict. It seemed perfect because she is clearly listening as he is speaking. (I suppose one could look at this as a bit of irony, too: he who wrote about listening could appear to be talking too much.)
3. This is a painting by Gustave Baumann called Point Lobos. (1946) I chose to use it here because it appears to be a place of solitude and beauty in which one could truly listen.
4. This is a work by the great painter of Scriptural scenes, Duccio Di Buoninsegna. It is The Woman at the Well. (1308-11) I chose to use it because I simply love his work. I especially love that he painted the well to look like a baptismal font rather than like a traditional well. "The water I shall give will become...a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)
5. This is one of my photos, taken in the gardens at Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand. I chose to use it here because it exemplifies clarity: the blind man now sees spiritually with a depth he did not have before. He could now recognize Jesus as the Son of God. Just as one has to look more closely to see the bee in this flower, we have to have a measure of courage to see and acknowledge to others what we have seen and heard.
6. This is The Raising of Lazarus by Giotto. (1306) I love this painting because there are so many witnesses to the miracle. Everyone is listening, and those who truly are aware of the presence of God within Jesus are kneeling in gratitude and humility.
7. This is called The Road Menders by Vincent van Gogh. (1889) I thought it worked well here because of the workers on the right side of the frame who must truly be aware of one another to repair the road correctly, but also I liked the woman on the left who seems to be paying close attention to them. Perhaps she is seeing Jesus among them?
8. This image was painted by Fr. William Hart McNichols and it is called Jesus Listen and Pray. I chose to use it here because it seemed to sum up what my post is about: during His life Jesus prayed and discerned the will of His Father, but He continually listens to us as well. You can find this image (and can order a copy in one of many mediums if you like) at http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/featured/jesus-listen-and-pray-251-william-hart-mcnichols.html.