Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Sir 35:12-14, 16-18
Psalm 34:2-3, 17-19, 23
2) 2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18
Gospel: Lk 18:9-14
In “The Tree of Life,” a movie by Terrence Malick that seems to be a meditation on the Book of Job, Jack walks onto his school’s property and looks around at boys and girls playing and socializing.
The viewer hears his thoughts, which are directed to God. “I wish I could see what you see,” he says.
What does the Mystery Beyond Mysteries see when looking at creation? At his creatures? What immeasurable worth does he perceive in boys and girls? What unfoldings does he observe in human hearts?
What would we see if Jack’s prayer were answered for us? How would it affect us?
I am reminded of that scene in “The Tree of Life” by today’s first reading and psalm. “The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan,” Sirach says.
The psalmist echoes, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” Looking around at the people in our life, we might feel a longing like Jack’s. “God, I wish I could hear what you hear.”
More often we ask God to speak to us and help us hear the word that he speaks. “Lord, what is your guidance?” “What is your wisdom?” “What is your word of encouragement or correction?” “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
But reflecting on the passages from Sirach and Psalm 34, we might turn this around. Rather than asking God for his word, we might ask for his ear.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” the psalmist declares. God is listening to them. He is aware of their suffering. He is closer to their sorrow than they are.
Of course, we do not want to get inside anyone’s head. The point is not to violate anyone’s privacy, to poke around in other people’s secret distress. The point is to notice when they “cry out.”
So often people do cry out in ways that are subtle — but not too subtle to be noticed, if we are paying attention.
“Lord, let me hear what you hear” is not a request for insider information about anyone. It is a plea to help us open our hearts so that we can hear the sounds of breakage in others’ hearts. It is a plea to help us hear with our hearts.
If we do, because God is in our hearts, we will see how to respond.
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Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.