Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.


One of my law partners and I left the office at the same time late yesterday afternoon.  As we were walking out of the building, I started telling him about all of the phenomenol things that happened to or were done by Padre Pio during his life.  In a few brief moments, I mentioned the stigmata, bilocations, healings and other miracles.  As we parted toward our respective cars, I thought to myself, none of what I had just shared with my friend had actually registered with him in any meaningful way.  I felt as if it had gone in one ear and out the other.  So I yelled across the parking lot and said, “Hey I am talking to you.”  He responded, “Yeah I know, I said goodbye.”  Clearly, he missed the whole point of our conversation.

My Grandson Emmett

I wonder how often the Lord must feel about me the way I felt about my law partner?  How many times has the Lord spoken to me and I just didn’t get it?  I find myself waiting for God to speak and, yet, I have this strange feeling that he has already spoken, and I just didn’t get it.  Do you ever feel that way?

In the Gospel of Matthew, it is reported that  Jesus said on four separate occasions, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  In another passage Jesus says, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But he who hears and does not do them is alike a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:47-49)

When Jesus says, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear”, he is trying to get our attention.  He wants us to understand that there is more to hearing than sound passing through our ear drums. “Hearing”, in the gospel sense, means “doing”, “acting” and “putting into practice” what you have heard.  God is not just a talker — he does what he says he is going to do.  God acts!  And he expects the same out of us.

Perhaps this is exactly what Jesus had in mind when he spoke of the parable of the sower?  In explaining the parable Jesus said:  “The seed is the word of God.  The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved.  And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have not root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.  And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.  And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.”  (Luke 8:11-15)

I suppose, as so often is the case when we read scripture, each of us, depending where we happen to be on our journey at this particular moment ( some of us of course don’t even know we are on a journey), are perfectly described by one or more of the elements receiving the seed, either the path, rock, thorns or good soil.  How many times has some powerful idea, thought, plan or vision for our lives presented itself, only to be left lying along the path somewhere.  Don’t we all yearn for something wonderful and lasting to take root in us so that we can live life the way we know we are meant to live it?

Why do we linger in these in between places (somewhere between heaven and hell) where we have achieved a certain level of mediocrity, and from which we can view vistas of a life well lived, of love poured in and out, of abundance and fruitfulness, as if there is no escape?  Why do we cling to these lower dwellings, when deep inside we know that we are made to live in castles further up and farther in?  Why do we live so timidly, when a life of great adventure is ours for the taking?

Jesus is speaking to us and he is saying, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear”.  But remember more is required of us then just hearing.  Rather, we must “… be doers of the word and not hearers only …  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.”  (James 1:22-25)

Can you imagine what it would be like to live life as a man or woman of action?  Wouldn’t it be something to actually achieve great deeds, rather than just watch them on TV or at the movies.  Wouldn’t it be smashing to actually be a super hero instead of daydreaming about it?

Look at the heroes of faith whose accomplishments are lauded in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews.  Not a single one of them is praised for imagining great things.  They all acted!  There is not a wanna be or a pretender in the bunch.

I am reminded of the lyrics from a song by the Eagles.  “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?  You’ve been out riding fences for so long now.  Oh, you’re a hard one.  I know that you got your reasons.  These things that are pleasin’ you, can hurt you somehow.”

We’ve all got our reasons don’t we?  But this half life we have been living is hurting us somehow and lots of other people who are waiting for us to touch their lives.  Like the cowboy in the Eagles’ song, we’ve “… got to come down from [our] fences and open the gate”.

But how do we do it?  There is only one way.  We have to encounter Jesus face to face — “mano a mano”.  Just you and him.  We are told in scripture to “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  (Matthew 7:7-8)  However, this is no half-hearted, just going through the motions, asking, knocking and seeking.  Like the women with the hemorrhage in the gospel account, we have to grab a hold of Jesus and refuse to let go until we encounter him in a way that changes us forever.

Jesus is not afraid of you and me; but we are afraid of him — as we should be.  For like Aslan in Lewis’ “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Jesus is good, but he is not tame.  Nevertheless, he waits for us, ready to lead us into a life of high adventure and glory.

“Let him who has ears to hear …”

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