The word “heart” occurs several times in today’s first reading from the Book of Kings. Just as Solomon asks the Lord for “an understanding heart” (which can also be translated as a “listening heart”), so the heart of Jesus is moved with pity for the vast crowd of people, who were like sheep without a shepherd. So “He began to teach them many things.” Then, in the passage which follows, he feeds them—all 5,000 of them.
We have been rejoicing in the fact that Pope Francis has an understanding and listening heart, and that he realizes that people need both to be taught and to be fed. You and I also need to have understanding and listening hearts, like Solomon, and hearts that can have pity and compassion for people’s spiritual and physical needs, just as Jesus has.
We can begin to grow such listening hearts if we accept Jesus’ invitation to “come away” and be alone with him. He will teach us—today!
—Fr. Bob Braunreuther, S.J., a New England Jesuit, assists in pastoral ministry at Loyola University Chicago, and is minister of the Arrupe House Jesuit Community.