“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.”
—From today’s Gospel
“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.”
—From today’s first reading
Dear fellow pilgrims,
Today’s readings connect the misuse of a few things fundamental to human survival (water, the senses) with spiritual rebellion, laxity, or inattention. God is the source of living water, a spring, a natural source, so fundamental to human survival and all life, and yet, humans do not trust this source and have dug cisterns (or an underground container) for storing rain water for themselves. God is also the source of Truth and Reality, and yet, so often, the five senses given to us by our Creator betray their purpose, which is to connect our consciousness with the reality occurring around us.
Which is to say that all to often, we pick and choose what we want to see and hear, and thus, believe, because something within us rejects God as Reality and Truth.
We also think we can find our own sustenance, appease our own various thirsts, our own lacks, without tapping into the living water, the eternal refreshment of the Holy Spirit. (Cue the cliche phrase: “Lookin’ for looove in allll the wrong places…”) All too often, there is a disconnect between the human needs God has allowed in us and the fullest means of addressing them. Spoken plainly… the people described here think they can meet their own needs; they don’t think they need God.
Yesterday, Aidan talked about this theme of “earthen vessels,” how awesome it is that we who are made of dust were chosen to be purified in holiness the very Spirit of God, the Creator. Today, the readings seem to show the “dark side” of this truth: our given state is not divine, we must be purified out of earthly rebellion and into divine receptivity and attention.
Our first reading today is an excerpt from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, expounding upon how the Jewish people were once completely in love with God and trusted Him in the desert, but then lost that trust when they were brought into the abundance of the promised land. Their needs that were being met by God in the desert so clearly were now being met by warped notions of “god” (the pagan gods of Baal, native to Canaan, the promised land for the Jewish people). How often have you felt this shift in your own life? I can recall vividly many difficult times when I was really close to the Lord for different seasons, and then feel myself slip away from Him when that season began to shift into what seemed to be “verdant pastures of repose.”
Part of this disconnect between seasons of what is characterized by apparent difficulties and then abundance happens BECAUSE we revert back to trusting immediately what we see and hear in front of our faces. We have lost that inner knowledge, that lens of God’s reality, true reality, because our senses are given relief from that time thirsting for water in the desert.
So how do we change, if this is where we find ourselves: Seeing, but not really seeing what God wants you to see. Hearing, but not really hearing what God wants you to hear. Drinking water to quench your immediate thirsts (i.e. for human connection, physical bliss, admiration from others) but not drinking living water that truly quenches your deep, inner thirsts. Jesus tells us: we must be converted by understanding these sights and sounds with our hearts, and this conversion involves healing. It involves healing because these modes of sensing are not only warped, they are wounded. Jesus is the divine physician, not the divine finger-pointer. He wants to heal the way we see, hear, quench our long list of human thirsts.
Allow the Lord to speak to your heart tonight (or today). Pray in the silence of your heart:
Jesus, please show me the thirsts in my heart that I try to satisfy by myself, without the thought of You entering my mind. Show me what wound is reflected by my thirst, what don’t I believe about your power to ultimately satisfy me?
Jesus, please show me how I am seeing or listening to this world without stopping to consider Your Reality shining through it. Please show me how my understanding of myself and the world is broken and wounded.