I have found myself in recent years insisting that people believe their ears and not their eyes.

Now our flesh demands to see by its own unregenerate power, only then will the flesh say it believes. But the truth is, our flesh does not often believe even when it sees. We usually figure, “they have some way of doing that” or perhaps we’ll say, “This is a trick, an illusion.” And illusionist can do some pretty amazing stuff! (See the video below).

But the Scriptures are clear to say that Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17) . It also says, Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen (Heb 11:1). Even Thomas who is said to believe because he sees is really confessing something he cannot see, that Jesus is Lord and God (Jn 20:29).

For example, when it comes to the sacraments we have to believe our ears, for our eyes cannot see the reality that faith declares to be so. St. Thomas Aquinas in the beautiful hymn Adoro Te Devote says:

    • Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, (Sight and taste and touch in thee fall short)
    • Sed auditu solo tuto creditur; (But only the hearing is safely believed)
    • Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius, (I believe whatever the Son of God has said)
    • Nil hoc verbo veritatis verius. (Nothing is truer than this word of truth)

And thus I must often remind people when it comes to sacraments:

  1. Eucharist – Though your eyes may still see bread and wine, believe your ears: “This is my Body, This is my Blood…..” (Matt 26:26 inter al). The Bread I will give is my flesh for the Life of the world….(Jn 6:51).”
  2. Marriage – Though your eyes may still see a newly married bride and groom as two separate distinct individuals, believe your ears: “They are no longer two, they are one. What God has joined together let no one divide.” (Matt 19:6)
  3. Baptism – Though your eyes may see a newly baptized baby as just the same, believe your ears: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased….(Lk 3:21) If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)…..We who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father we too might live in newness of life (Rom 6:4)
  4. Confession – A person who emerges from a confessional may appear just the same, but believe your ears: I absolve you from your sins..…Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them (Jn 20:23).

What are you going to believe….your eyes or your ears?

  • [For] we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal….for we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 4:18, 5:7).
  • And to the Pharisees who claimed they could see (but still refused to believe) the Lord said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty, But you remain guilty because you claim you can see. (John 9:41)
  • And to those who do believe the Lord says through Peter: You have not seen him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him you believe in him and so are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described (1 Peter 1:8)

What are you going to believe, your eyes or your ears?

Your flesh demands to see. But I promise you, even if you do see, your flesh will explain it away. Consider this video. Illusionists can do some pretty amazing things. But notice how quickly your flesh is willing to explain it away. And this case it should for these are illusions. But what if you saw a real miracle? What do you suppose your flesh would do? What do you suppose?

Faith comes by hearing.

12 Responses

  1. Ben Morales says:

    The capacity we have to justify and explain away is great. It is by faith in what we’ve heard (what we are told by Christ) that we go to the sacraments. He said it, is enough for me. Just because who He was.

  2. toadehall says:

    I am always struck by what a different appreciation of Scripture I have when I hear it rather than just read it myself. I am always greatly enriched by our Catholic habit of proclaiming great stretches of Scripture in the mass–enough to give context, in series so that at daily mass the story becomes something like an old-fashioned serial, and spoken so that I get something of the nuance that is held within. Not to say reading Scripture is not important, for it is–but there is so much more when it is proclaimed…when we actually hear it.

  3. TaillerHuws says:

    And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
    and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire;

    …and after the fire a still small voice.

    And when Eli’jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Eli’jah?”
    He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD…

    — 1 Kings 19:11-14, RSV Holy Bible

  4. Donna says:

    What a fun video!

    How truly blessed we are to have God’s Word! Also, what an important reminder to be sharing it with others. Thanks for all the scripture references today. I love the portion that TaillerHuws included, as well. Here’s another one from the Gospel of Matthew:

    13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

    ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
    You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
    For the heart of this people has become dull,
    With their ears they scarcely hear,
    And they have closed their eyes,
    15 Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
    Hear with their ears,
    And understand with their heart and return,
    And I would heal them.’

    16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

  5. RichardC says:

    Neat video. It is like the Egyptian magicians who could mimic some of the miracles God worked through Moses. I don’t know why they couldn’t mimic all of them.

    G. K. Chesterton said something insightful about blood: Blood is only living when it is invisible.

  6. Becket says:

    I’ve never thought of it quite this way before, but you’re absolutely right. “We walk by faith and not by sight.”

    Here’s another good video of illusions. The eyes are truly deceiving.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBNHPk-Lnkk

  7. GaryM says:

    The biggest illusion is the image I have of myself.

    Reality is always so humbling. . . the world seems so empty and deceiving.

    All I can do is pray hard, participate in the Sacraments, try to help others and ask/hope for God’s mercy.

    See it? No, I feel it.

  8. TaillerHuws says:

    Faith is that enabler which keeps our spiritual ears supple and receptive to God’s quiet voice. If we have faith, we hear and trust. If we do not have faith, what is said is not heard, and we bear no fruit.

    Seek…listen…acknowledge…respond.

    If we seek to listen, the other two will follow, and we will thrive.

  9. Annette Strachan says:

    In Revelations to John a voice told him to write what he saw and send it to the seven angels of the seven churches. Each Message contained, ‘ ” Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. ” ‘.
    Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22.

  10. Anne Marie says:

    But also never forget that it did take a “doubting Thomas” to SEE the risen Jesus in order to BELIEVE as well.

  11. Ang says:

    I would say faith comes from good teaching and a willingness to learn, not just through hearing. I am thinking in particular of my friends who are Deaf who finally understand what the Church teaches because they have finally been able to access an excellent teacher in the form of a Deaf priest who takes the time to lead his flock. Kudos to Fr Mike Depcik! (his website has ASL teaching with an interpreted voiceover at http://www.frmd.org)

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