"You hypocrites! You know how to discern the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not discern this present time?" Luke 12:56
The stem word for discern in the Greek New Testament is dokae "watching". It means seeing an object which is tested, genuine or valuable. It’s importance is indicated how often the word is used. It indicates we must explore mystery of Christ with all of our minds and hearts.
In today’s gospel Jesus strongly criticizes people for not discerning the critical hour of God’s presence. They can recognize the weather and act on it, but they can not or will not discern the momentous hour of God’s intervention in Christ! How often God tells us that we have no idea how much He loves us: "you do not know Me." Isaiah 45: 5
We look at the huge universe and think how could this great God have the time of day for me? This is an old question that many have asked before us. Over 2000 years ago the Psalmist asked: "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8 The greatest wonder we will ever discern is God’s love for us. The New Testament uses strong Greek words like knocked out (explaeso) or ecstasy (eckistami) describing what happens to a person when they discern Christ! G K Chesterton reminds us: "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."
Why does Jesus call them "You hypocrites?" Hypocrisy is associated with acting. Players would wear masks to express their role on stage. It has nothing to do with the real feelings of the actor. Jesus quoting Scripture said: "they honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Hypocrisy is about the face and not about the heart. Knowing the earth-shattering truth of God’s care and love for us in Christ should be the deepest concern of our lives, and not some superficial play acting. Each day of our lives when we awake we should be dumbfounded when we think of how much we mean to God. We are far more important to Him than He is to us! We grow in holiness as we begin our spiritual journey of trying to understand of His love for us. When we begin to be shocked and startled at his interest in us, it is only then we experience discernment of the Lord.
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.