The Gift of Understanding

June 8, 2023

And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12:34

Finally, we have the witness of one of the religious leaders, a scribe, who got it right. The passage above is the conclusion of the interaction with this scribe who asks Jesus which of all the commandments is the first and greatest. Jesus gives the twofold answer that we are to love God above all, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. The scribe then responds to Jesus’ answer by saying, “Well said, teacher. You are right…” And then Jesus compliments this scribe with the quoted passage above.

Recall that almost all of the Pharisees were continually rebuked by Jesus because of their self-righteous arrogance. The Sadducees were also chastised but often to a lesser degree. And now we have a scribe who outshines them all. The scribes were primarily functionaries who copied or created various liturgical and legal documents. Some of the Pharisees were also scribes. And most of the time, when Jeus condemned the Pharisees, He also condemned the scribes. But this scribe is different. This scribe appears to not only be interested in Jesus’ answer but also manifests “understanding” of what Jesus said to him. Don’t underestimate the importance of this gift of understanding.

In order to truly understand that which our Lord speaks to us, we must be open. And openness requires humility. Humility is a virtue that is contrary to a “know-it-all” attitude. It’s a disposition of mind and heart that listens to God speak, hears what He says, comprehends all truth by the gift of grace, and prayerfully submits to that truth. Humility enables us to look beyond ourselves for the answers to the most difficult questions in life. It enables us to turn to the one and only source of truth, Jesus Christ Himself. And the fruit of this humble openness is the gift of understanding. It’s an understanding of the mysteries of life which is beyond our natural intellectual capacity. The grace of God is able to teach and form the humble soul and fill it with clarity of vision and an acceptance of the deepest truths.

Reflect, today, upon Jesus’ words to this scribe. “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” Does Jesus also speak these words to you? Have you humbly sought out the answers to the many questions of life by turning to our Lord? More specifically, are you able to look at your life and rejoice in the fact that God has also given you His gift of understanding? If not, then look within and consider which questions you most need to bring to Jesus. Place them before Him and then listen, be open and be ready to respond when He speaks. Hearing and responding to our Lord will result in our Lord saying these same words to you.

My Lord of all Truth, You look upon the humble souls with graciousness and mercy, and You reveal to them the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Please give me the gift of humility, dear Lord, so that I may always turn to You with every question in life. Fill me with the gift of understanding so that I may know how to love and serve You more faithfully each and every day. Jesus, I trust in You.