“Listen with the heart, not just the ears.”  This is not a recorded saying of Jesus but I think it expresses an attitude we can hear underneath all his teaching. It is an attitude the Church has understood through all these centuries since Jesus.

The Gospel reading for today ends with Jesus saying, “What is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” Listening with the heart, the Church has not understood these words as they stand. Some things ‘of human esteem’ — in moderation and with the proper perspective — have been praised and encouraged by the Church, things like learning, good health, economic welfare, freedom from want, etc. These things are valued by the human family in general as well as by the Church.

Listening with the heart, we know what Jesus means, that greed and power and honors can make one empty of God and full of one’s self. Jesus does not condemn all that is good in ordinary human life but only that which leads the individual to believe s/he is the center of the universe.

How, in what circumstances, with whom do I listen with the heart?

—Fr. Dennis Dillon, S.J. serves as pastoral minister at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI. He is also an avid stamp collector and accomplished magician.