"Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience thou mayest return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away."
(Prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict)
Hearing! How important is it to be able to hear! It is the proper behavior of the disciple. It is an attitude that is an expression of wisdom. A wise man is someone who hears and listens. It is absolutely necessary to hear in order to have Faith, a Faith which is truly a principle of life in our souls, which is effective and makes us live as authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. If you do not hear, you cannot be a disciple, because you do not even know what the will of your Master is. You think that you know and you speak to show that you know, but you don’t really know. You are not a disciple but you try to make yourself a master.
Adeodat, the son of Saint Augustine, considered himself to a disciple of his father. Saint Augustine denied the title of master that his son gave him, quoting Jesus: Neither be ye called masters; for one is your master, Christ. This gave the opportunity to Saint Augustine to write a beautiful treaty known as De Magistro. He says that the truth is in us. It dwells within man. This idea was already explained by Plato. But now, the truth has a name: Jesus. Jesus Christ is the interior truth that we receive by Faith and that we have to understand. Then Saint Augustine quotes the third chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, the one we read every first Friday during the Mass of the Sacred Heart. It is a beautiful and deep text that allows us to catch a glimpse of the mystery of the Heart of Jesus: "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened by his Spirit with might unto the inward man, That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that being rooted and founded in charity, You may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth: To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God. "
Faith gives us the knowledge of God, but we can comprehend Him only by charity because it surpasses all knowledge. But Christ has to dwell first in your heart and it is possible only if you are an inward person, that means only if you are able to be silent and to hear. Saint Augustine adds that Jesus Christ is the immutable and eternal wisdom of God. Every rational soul consults Him, but He opens Himself to each one according to one’s capacity, which depends on one’s will.
What Saint Augustine tries to make us understand is that it is not hearing the audible external words which is the most important, but hearing the voice of Jesus Christ our Master who speaks within ourselves. The ears of the soul are more useful than the ears of the body. Thus, Saint Augustine explains to his son, and to us, that he is not a master, but only someone who helps us hear the Master. He finally sums up his thoughts: "Foris admonet, intus docet", which means that the language, even the words of Jesus Christ advise on an external level, but only the Truth teaches on an internal level.
In today’s epistle, Saint James tells us that we should be doers of the word of God and not only hearers, otherwise we would deceive ourselves. Hearing is not doing but we cannot do if we don’t hear first. Saint James adds that doing the word of God is neither speaking: And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain. His or her religion is vain! These are very strong words that Saint James tells. If someone cannot bridle his tongue, his religion is vain. You can attend Mass everyday, you can multiply your devotions, you can keep to the letter of the dress code and all the codes you want, but if you cannot bridle your tongue you deceive yourself and your religion is vain.
You know, it is difficult to do two different things at the same time. So when you speak, you can hardly hear. When you speak, you usually look at yourself and you do not 'look into the perfect law of liberty."
Remember what we have meditated on two weeks ago: only true disciples are free because they hear Jesus in themselves. I like to define freedom as the ability to hear the Truth. It is not the ability to tell our truths but to hear the Truth and then to accept it and to live it. The true disciple is a mirror in which we can see the face of Jesus. He does not reflect himself but the Master.
So dear brethren, I would like to finish with an invitation. I invite you to look into yourself, as I will do for myself. Then ask yourself what or who do you see. The answer is just for you. Take the time to do this. Remain in silence for a while, look and hear. You might be surprised.
And after the invitation, maybe a little suggestion: when you receive Holy Communion, Our Lord Jesus Christ is present in you in a very special manner. There is no better state of union on earth. So after Mass, instead of running into the parish hall to speak, why don’t you stay a while in the church to listen to Jesus? He has certainly many things to tell you. Please, give Him these few minutes after each Communion. They can really change your life.
May our Lady, perfect mirror of Her Son help us to hear the truth in the depth of our soul so that we can do the word of God and be true disciples. Today is the anniversary of the apparition in Fatima. Our Lady has certainly many graces to offer today. Let us not miss them.