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Saint Nicholas, Bishop
Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding. (Isaiah 29:24)
Describing the longed-for age of the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah conveys wonderful promises about what will happen when God finally brings his redemption. The deaf will hear, the blind will see, the poor will rejoice, and tyrants will be overthrown. Even the very landscape will be altered!
But among these grand promises is a more personal one that can touch each and every one of us today: the gift of understanding. And what a gift this is! We all know how easy it can be to “err in spirit,” to “find fault,” and to condemn someone “with a mere word” (Isaiah 29:24, 21). Judgmental behaviors like these involve “standing over” someone and looking down on him or her. As such, they are the direct opposite of understanding.
To understand is to “stand under.” It is to offer people our support and to look up to them with deep respect. Every person deserves to be treated this way, with respect and understanding, because everyone is made in the image of God. It may be hard to detect in some, but if we ask the Lord to open our eyes, we will be able to discern traces of God’s handiwork in even the most difficult people around us. And seeing them in this new light, we will understand them a little better.
Jesus demonstrates this kind of understanding in today’s Gospel as he heals two blind men. He waits until they enter the privacy of a house. He then speaks to them personally and acknowledges their faith. Then, having connected with them on a personal level, he meets their need.
Ask the Lord to point out one person today who needs your understanding. Take time in prayer to find in that person something you respect or admire. This deeper understanding may alter how, or even whether, you offer help. Perhaps all Jesus wants from you is a listening ear and a sympathetic heart. Perhaps instead of “doing something,” you will be led to stand back and simply “be” with that person. That kind of understanding, that kind of kinship, can transform both the other person and yourself!
“Jesus, thank you for understanding me, for supporting me, and for respecting me even when I fail to respect myself. Help me to extend that understanding to others.”
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14; Matthew 9:27-31
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