Franciscan Spirit Blog

Advent with Richard Rohr: Thursday of the Second Week

Let anyone with ears listen!
—Matthew 11:15

It is increasingly striking to me how much Jesus talks about seeing, hearing, listening and not being blind, as in today’s Gospel. I used to think he was just pointing to hardhearted and wicked people, certainly not ordinary folks like you and me. The longer I have worked with people, however, the more I see that it is cultural and institutional blindness that keeps most of us from deeper seeing, and not usually personal bad will. We mostly think like everybody around us thinks unless we have taken some real inner journeys of love, prayer and suffering. Without great love and/or great suffering, human consciousness remains largely at the fight-or-flight, either/or, all-or-nothing level. This dualistic mind, that we can now prove is the lowest level of brain function, will never be able to access, much less deal with, the really big things that are invariably “mysterious.”

What are the big things? I would list love, freedom, evil, God, eternity, nonviolence, forgiveness, grace and mercy. These the dualistic mind cannot comprehend, and in fact, it usually gets them utterly wrong because they each have a paradoxical character that demands some degree of non-dual thinking.

Jesus is talking today to all of us, and not just to those really bad people out there. We can be very sincere, good-willed and even want to be loving, but the big issues will still bring us to the blindness and deafness that Jesus talks about.

It is largely great love and great suffering that create spiritual listening and larger seeing. Mere belief systems and church services do not of themselves assure such transformation. This is surely why Jesus criticizes the people’s inability to understand the law and the prophets in today’s Gospel, which they all “believed in” but did not really understand at all. Note that Jesus is not talking to the bad guys here but just to “the people” (Matthew 11:7).


Do you tend to think dualistically? Does it help you to be more loving? Does it help you to be more obedient to the gospel?

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