He Who Has an Ear, Let Him Hear

Saint Stephen of Mar Saba

He who has an ear, let him hear (cf Rv 2:7)

“Instead of revealing things in part, as he did to St. Paul, Jesus explained everything to his Apostles.”  (Note 1)

“They [the Apostles] did not understand because they did not want to understand.  They saw clearly that they must follow their Master, and they did not want to know about he suffering that lay ahead for him, for fear of having a similar fate.”  (Note 2)

“For in his suffering and in our obligation to follow him and to carry our cross after him is our salvation. ‘Let these words sink into your ears.’” [cf Lk 9:44] (Note 3)

Consider how prone we are to self-deception. … ‘Leave this behind’, ‘deny yourself this pleasure’, ‘renounce your will,’: these things we do not hear.  We do not want to hear them or know about them….” (Note 4)

“The cause of their [the Apostles] astonishment was that they knew that the Scribes and Pharisees were seeking to put him to death, and that they could not comprehend his decision to place himself into their hands, and they following him trembling.  We fear to follow Jesus to the Cross.”  (Note 5)

“Such is man: the one who speaks the boldest is, often as not, shown to be the weakest when God abandons him to his own powers.”  (Note 6)

“The art of listening is at the heart of genuine prayer.  As we learn to listen with attention and sensitivity, all the events of our lives become encounters with the Lord, all events become prayer.”  (Note 7)

“For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

Short and sorrowful is our life,

and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end,

and no one has been known to return from Hades.

Because we were born by mere chance,

and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been;

because the breath in our nostrils is smoke,

and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts.

When it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes,

and the spirit will dissolve like empty air.

Our name will be forgotten in time,

and no one will remember our works;

our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud,

and be scattered like mist

that is chased by the rays of the sun

and overcome by its heat.

For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow,

and there is no return from our death,

because it is sealed up and no one turns back.

Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist,

and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.

Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes,

and let no flower of spring pass by us.

Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.

Let none of us fail to share in our revelry,

everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment,

because this is our portion, and this our lot.

Let us oppress the righteous poor man;

let us not spare the widow

nor regard the gray hairs of the aged.

But let our might be our law of right,

for what is weak proves itself to be useless.

Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,

because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;

he reproaches us for sins against the law,

and accuses us of sins against our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God,

and calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;

the very sight of him is a burden to us,

because his manner of life is unlike that of others,

and his ways are strange.

We are considered by him as something base,

and he avoids our ways as unclean;

he calls the last end of the righteous happy,

and boasts that God is his father.

Let us see if his words are true,

and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him,

and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult and torture,

that we may find out how gentle he is,

and make trial of his forbearance.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death,

for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

Error of the Wicked

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,

for their wickedness blinded them,

and they did not know the secret purposes of God,

nor hope for the wages of holiness,

nor discern the prize for blameless souls;

for God created man for incorruption,

and made him in the image of his own eternity,

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his party experience it.

The Destiny of the Righteous

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,

and no torment will ever touch them.

In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,

and their departure was thought to be an affliction,

and their going from us to be their destruction;

but they are at peace.

For though in the sight of men they were punished,

their hope is full of immortality.

Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,

because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;

like gold in the furnace he tried them,

and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.”

(Wis 2:1 – 3:6 (RSV))

I titled today’s thoughts “He who has an ear, let him hear” for two reasons, as can be seen in the quotes from the meditations.  First, The apostles didn’t want to hear Jesus and his talk of what must befall him, because of their fear of the same thing happening to them.  Fear, as we all know, is a very powerful motivator.  Which is even more odd because the apostles all suffered martyrdom.  Second, we all don’t listen to God in our lives.  Prayer is about not only talking to God, but listening to what he has to say to us.  That’s very hard — trust me, I know.  But it’s very important, and I think it’s why I am so attracted to Eucharistic Adoration and the Holy Hour.  It gives me time with God to not only talk to him, but to listen to what he has to say to me — if anything.  Granted, I don’t go as often as I should or would like to, but as my situation changes in life, I will make it a point to go more — even bringing my daughter with me and teaching her the importance and beauty of Adoration and listening.

Today’s saint, Saint Stephen of Mar Saba, wrote a poem/hymn during the time of persecution of Christians by Islam in the Middle East.  To quote the website that speaks of it:

“Towards the end of his life, Stephen may have experienced persecution from the Umayyad and Abbasid Islamic Dynasties, when many monks of St. Sabas met their deaths. …One of Stephen’s hymns, Art thou weary, art thou languid?, was sympathetically translated by John Mason Neale in his Hymns for the Eastern Church (1862).  It shows the strength of heart of the monk and disciple who during the sad days when the Cross was bowing to the Crescent, accepted the way of his Lord”. (Note 8)

For some reason, I think it is important that I include this hymn/poem in this post:

Art thou weary, art thou languid,

Art thou sore distressed?

“Come to Me,” saith One, “and coming,

Be at rest.”

Hath He marks to lead me to Him,

If He be my Guide?

In His feet and hands are wound prints

And His side.

Hath He diadem, as monarch,

That His brow adorns?

Yes, a crown in very surety,

But of thorns.

If I find Him, if I follow,

What His guerdon here?

Many a sorrow, many a labor,

Many a tear.

If I still hold closely to Him,

What hath He at last?

Sorrow vanquished, labour ended,

Jordan passed.

If I ask Him to receive me,

Will He say me nay?

Not till earth and not till Heaven

Pass away.

Finding, following, keeping, struggling,

Is He sure to bless?

Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,

Answer, Yes!

(Note 9)

————————-

Notes:

1.  Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Lent, trans. Christopher O. Blum (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2013), 118.

2.  Bossuet, Meditations, 119.

3.  Bossuet, Meditations, 119.

4.  Bossuet, Meditations, 120.

5.  Bossuet, Meditations, 120.

6.  Bossuet, Meditations, 121.

7.  Thomas H. Green, SJ, “Let Us See if His Words are True”.  In Renewing Our Discipleship, Daily Reflections on the 2017 Lenten Readings for Mass, ed. Steve Mueller (St Louis, MO: All Saints Press, 2017), 31.

8.  https://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-stephen-of-mar-saba-725-794/

9. Ibid.

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