“I do not understand.”
As a Pastoral Care Counselor in a Visiting Nurse Service these are words that I often hear, especially from patients and caregivers. “ I lived a good life; I don’t understand why I have such a difficult time now.” “ Why did this happen to me? I don’t understand.” Why is there so much suffering in my family, in the world?”
And through it all, in disclosing their troubles, patients and families seem to find the treasure in the field and uncover a certain understanding and acceptance. An understanding and listening heart opens the flood gates and often allows this to happen.
In today’s first reading Solomon knew he needed to find this treasure in the field- wisdom and an understanding heart. (And so) He prayed to God: “ Give to your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge Your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
From the Pastoral care perspective, I witness the good that a compassionate, understanding and prayerful presence can do for others in their own search for understanding and acceptance, -from within themselves to begin with. The good that (works itself out) manifests itself in healing of Body, Mind and Spirit, The good that St. Paul speaks of in the second reading: “…all things work out for the good for those who love God.”
In life I have found that an understanding heart, a heart filled with love, not just my own, but God’s love is the “pearl” of great price, and is there for all who search and are open to asking and seeing. This is a search that seeks and finds the Grace of God which enables and empowers us to offer an understanding heart to others as well as to ourselves.
A search often involves a map. For me it helps to pray for an understanding heart, to see the example of others who have an understanding heart like Solomon or like a friend;. It is also helpful to recognize the obstacles to an understanding heart, like busyness or being judgmental or a myriad of other reactions to life. And, oh how wonderful, that we can be freed in our repentance from these very obstacles and receive a change of heart! And Praise God as we near the end of the search to see and celebrate when I allow God to grace me with an understanding heart. “Thank You, God” when I experience, an understanding heart from someone else.
Our country, and our world are in the grip of (the) confusion and distress as are the patients and families of which I have spoken. Freedom can and has come through an understanding heart in a more collective way. Have you seen any town halls lately in the news? Common Sense and Common Good seem to spell out an understanding heart on the collective level. Can it happen collectively in places where an understanding heart is suspect, as in Congress, especially regarding Health Care and Refugees and Immigrants? I and we can be there in our thoughts and prayers and our own actions. God leads us to the treasures, to the wisdom and love to untie the knots that we experience politically, mentally, emotionally, economically, socially and spiritually?. The prayer of Solomon speaks to us in the here and now, in our individual encounters, personally and situationally, and indeed in our world and in our country. Our prayer: ‘God, may we search and find the treasure in the field, the pearl of great price: An understanding heart!’
“Glory be to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine…”
Sister Jo-Anne Faillace, O.P.