Faith · Religious life · spirituaility

July 16th – hEARt connection

Scripture Reflection . . .

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  Isaiah 55:10-11

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 65 “The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”

Second Reading: Romans 8:18-23

Gospel: Matthew 13:1-23

“Listen with the ear of your heart” is a phrase and practice made known by St. Benedict that could describe today’s Scripture readings.

The Prophet Isaiah likens the word of God to rain which brings growth to the land that soaks it in. God’s word goes forth and flourishes and nourishes if it is received and shared.

St, Paul in his Letter to the Romans takes it deeper when he speaks of the groaning of creation and that “we also groan within ourselves”.  This is not just a Word that we hear with our ears and mind but a message that goes deeper – sometimes deeper than our conscious or superficial thinking.  There is a deep yearning within each person – within all of creation. It is to this “groaning” that we are called to listen with the ear of our heart.

Jesus makes it clear in today’s Gospel. We can limit our hearing to our mind and understanding but we will miss the message. We are called to go beyond our understanding to the realm of faith. Ironically faith deepens when we can humbly admit that we don’t know, we don’t understand, but yet we have a deep sense of connection.

For example, during a program I attended the participants were asked to listen to God speak through nature. We were invited to go outside and just walk until something caught our attention. Then we were to stand in place until we heard what God wanted to share. Some might be skeptical about this or want to force a thought but if you actually engage in the exercise and give yourself and your thoughts over to the experience, your heart will hear. I remember watching a squirrel busy about the work of seeking, finding, and eating a nut. It was just an act of watching when I heard the message “Enjoy me.” From this simple act I gained a new appreciation for creation as a revelation of God’s presence and the invitation to appreciate, enjoy and express gratitude.

What wonders we can experience if we listen more deeply to our ordinary experiences. It is then that God’s Word is like “the seed that falls on good ground [to] yield a fruitful harvest.”

In Our Lives as Sisters of The Holy Redeemer . . .

Each day offers us the opportunity to listen with the ear of our hearts. Here are just a few events that invited us to live more deeply this past week:

Our General Superior returned to Germany after her week long annual visit. We are blessed that even though we live a great distance apart there is a closeness and love that is the gift of the Spirit. We believe this is the source of our unity.

We also happily welcomed back our Sister Kim who attended an intercongregational program for individuals preparing for Final Vows.  Her joyful spirit gives witness to the fact that this was a graced experience for her – and all those who participated. The week was so much more than facts and knowledge. It was a matter of the heart.

Sr. Kim with the sunflowers and other participants

The season of vacation is here and some of us Sisters enjoyed time with family over the past week. As people with minds and hearts we believe the body and spirit flourish with rest and healthy relationships. Speaking of which, we all enjoyed a pool party & evening prayer together on a beautiful summer evening.

The loss of one of our baby goats was a sad point in the week and one in which we experience the beauty and sacredness of all life. These are times when we deeply believe that God cares for the sparrow, the flowers of the field and each hair of our head and the loss of any of these is noticed by the Creator with compassion  (see Matthew 10: 24-33).

Many generous volunteers gathered for a day to help prepare for our upcoming vacation bible school. Faith that deepens with listening with the heart is made visible in such works of service.

In the joys and sorrows we believe God speaks and we strive to open our hearts to receive the word and respond so the message of mercy and love can be shared.

In Your Life. . .

Richard Rohr recently offered a very clear description of Lectio Divina – a way of praying and listening to your heart  with a reading, image, experience, etc.

Perhaps you will want to pray with  one of today’s Scripture reading using this practice:

With the first reading, listen with your heart’s ear for a phrase or word that stands out for you. During the second reading, reflect on what touches you, perhaps speaking that response aloud or writing in a journal. After reading the passage a third time, respond with a prayer or expression of what you have experienced and what it calls you to. Finally, rest in silence after a fourth reading.

From Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation July, 15,2017

Blessings on Your Week!