You know what it’s like to try to chop carrots with a blunt knife. Even if you buy the best knife on the market, it’s not very helpful unless you keep it sharp.
Today Our Lord offers one explanation of how we can stay spiritually sharp: by keeping our hearts open to him. The disciples ask why Our Lord speaks in parables, and this turns into a discussion about those who can “see” and “hear” Jesus, and those who can’t. But, of course, Our Lord isn’t talking about literal seeing and hearing, but understanding. He’s talking about the ability to sense his presence and to discern his voice. So Our Lord tells his disciples that unless they seek to “understand with their hearts,” they will find it much harder to know him (Matthew 13:15).
Now, we have all opened our hearts to Jesus, but keeping our hearts open and alert to him is a lifelong task. It involves the obvious practices of prayer, studying Scripture, and receiving the Sacraments. But it also involves a willingness to be wrong, an openness to the Holy Spirit’s gentle course corrections and conscience pricks. After all, an open heart is a humble heart.
Saint Peter is a prime example of an open heart. Time after time, he got it wrong—when he tried to walk on water; when he offered to build a shrine on the mount of Transfiguration; when he tried to keep Jesus from the Cross; and, most memorably, when he denied three times that he even knew the Lord. But Peter never let these mistakes keep him away from Jesus. Instead, he kept learning. He kept following. He kept listening. And as he did, he grew sharper and sharper, until he was finally ready to take up his call to become the Rock of the Church. In just the same way, we will stay sharp if we learn from our mistakes and keep our eyes fixed on Our Lord.