The Gift of Understanding

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Readings for Third Sunday of Easter

Saint Pius V, Pope – Optional Memorial

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With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”  Luke 24:31-32 (Year A)

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45 (Year B)

These two passages above, from two subsequent appearances of Jesus to the Apostles, produced a unique blessing.  In each story, Jesus opened the minds of the Apostles to the Scriptures in a new way.  These were ordinary men who were given an extraordinary gift of understanding.  It didn’t come to them as a result of long study and hard work.  Rather, it came to them as a result of their openness to Christ’s powerful action in their lives.  Jesus unlocked the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven to them.  As a result, they suddenly understood truths that could never be learned on their own.

So it is with us.  The mysteries of God are vast and wide.  They are deep and transforming.  But so often we fail to understand.  We often even fail to want to understand. 

Think about those things in your life now, or in your past, that have left you confused.  You need a special gift of the Holy Spirit to make sense of them.  And you need this gift to make sense of the many good things of God found in the Scriptures also.  This is the Gift of Understanding.  It’s a spiritual gift that unlocks the many mysteries of life for us. 

Without the Gift of Understanding, we are left on our own to try to make sense of life.  This is especially true when we are faced with hardship and suffering.  How is it, for example, that an all-powerful and all-loving God can allow the good and the innocent to suffer?  How is it that God can seem absent at times from human tragedy? 

The truth is that He is not absent.  He is centrally involved in all things.  What we need to receive is an understanding of the profound and mysterious ways of God.  We need to understand the Scriptures, human suffering, human relationships, and divine action in our lives.  But this will never happen unless we allow Jesus to open our minds. 

Allowing Jesus to open our minds takes faith and surrender.  It means we believe first and understand later.  It means we trust Him even though we do not see.  St. Augustine once said, “Faith is to believe what you do not see. The reward of faith is to see what you believe.”  Are you willing to believe without seeing?  Are you willing to believe in the goodness and love of God even though life, or a particular situation in life, does not make sense?

Reflect, today, upon the Gift of Understanding.  Believing in God means we believe in a person.  We believe in Him even though we find ourselves confused about particular circumstances.  But this gift of believing, the gift of faith, opens the door to a depth of understanding that we could never arrive at on our own. 

Lord, give me the Gift of Understanding.  Help me to know You and to understand Your actions in my life.  Help me to especially turn to You in the most troubling moments of life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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