Genesis 6:5-8, 7:1-5, 10
Jesus was a person of tremendous contemplative intuition. I would guess, that as he was growing up, he was often the observer, silently watching people and their interactions; the eruptions of their feeling and emotions; how they acted in response to different stimuli that touched them. His contemplative intuition began to reveal the inner hearts of those he was observing.
The very fact we grow older and have many experiences in life, helps us develop an ability to see underneath a lot of commotion. Children who are experiencing many things for the first time in their young lives, have no idea that the adults watching them can often see right through them. As an adult we may be chuckling and saying to ourselves, "Been there. Done that."
Teenagers may be a little more difficult to read. They often feel that they are surrounded by a secret shield that makes the adult world stand in shock and a state of dumbfoundedness. Parents, because of their emotional involvement with their own teenagers, can lose some of this adult perception and begin to pull out their hair in frustration. It may take a little more intuitive ability, but teenagers are not that hard to read with regards to their basic patterns of growth. Each new generation seems to need to reinvent the wheel.
A certain contemplative ability comes with age and experience. However, there are much more profound levels of life harvesting intuitions that must be developed with prayer and reflection and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We need to dwell with suffering; get inside and abide in the human heart; feel the pain and loneliness of others; meditate on the passion and death of Jesus; learn more about other cultures and how people feel and live their lives there. We try not to let life just pass us by as a blur. We try to intuit the heart of what is happening.
Our readings today reveal this contemplative ability in God. In the Genesis passage, God not only sees how great was the external wickedness of man but he also saw "how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved." But God, able to read hearts, knew the goodness of heart of Noah and his family.
The disciples, in the boat, were all befuddled when Jesus began speaking about the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. They concluded that Jesus spoke these words because they forget to bring enough bread for the crossing. As he did so often, Jesus must have shook his head in amazement at their lack of understanding. But reading their hearts and seeing their inner darkness and confusion, he responded, "….. Are you hearts so hardened?" Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
The eyes we use to see and the ears we use to hear must lead us beyond the mere externals and help us to read the inner dimensions of what we are experiencing. We are all called to this kind of contemplation. True, some seem to be highly gifted in this area and we love to read their reflections on life. But don’t underestimate your calling to do the same.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.