Discernment of a True Seer
From Our Lord’s own Words in the Gospel of Saint John
By Bishop Malcolm Broussard
13 November 2017
“BLESSED ARE THE CLEAN OF HEART FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD”
Why do some people find it so difficult to discern a Seer as sent by God? First, Our Lord is the model which gives meaning to the answer to this question. Saint Thomas Aquinas links the Virtue of Faith with the Gift of Understanding and the Beatitude: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.” There is hidden within this triad the answer to the question above — why people find it difficult to discern a Seer as sent by God. It also explains why people lose faith after they had once professed it so strongly. I hope to show the reader the similarity between the way Our Lord was treated — with the way the Little Pebble is treated – and for the same reason: — namely, their hearts were not clean. Therefore, the Gift of Understanding is impeded by the lack of charity; which fosters doubts against their own gift of faith.
Let us begin by looking at Saint John’s Gospel chapter 7. In general the mood of the gossip circles in Our Lord’s day was one of confusion: “He is a good man” (verse 12); “No, he is leading the people astray” (verse 12); “How did he learn to read? He has not been taught” (verse 15); “Surely he must be the prophet” (verse 40); “He is the Christ” (verse 41); “Would the Christ be from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from the town of Bethlehem?” (verse 42)
Seeking the Honour of God
We find our Lord answering those people. Many whose hearts were not very well disposed to listen to Him:
“My teaching is not from myself: it comes from the one who sent me; and if anyone is prepared to do his will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or whether my doctrine is my own. When a man’s doctrine is his own he is hoping to get honour for himself; but when he is working for the honour of one who sent him, then he is sincere and by no means an impostor. Did not Moses give you the Law? And yet not one of you keeps the Law! Why do you want to kill me?” (John 7: 16-20)
If his listener’s had been clean of all self interest and pride – eg: clean of heart – they would have been able to understand Our Lord. This is because the Light of God is given and received where there is charity. The clean of heart can “see God” in the person of Our Lord – thus, so many of the sick, the handicapped, the great sinners were able to “see” and “understand” Our Lord in spite of all the terrible things being said about Jesus:
“The crowd replied, You are mad! Who wants to kill you? Jesus answered, One work I did, and you are all surprised by it. Moses ordered you to practice circumcision – not that it began with him, it goes back to the patriarchs – and you circumcise on the Sabbath. Now if a man can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses is not broken, why are you angry with me for making a man whole and complete on a Sabbath? Do not keep judging by appearances; let your judgment be according to what is right.” (John 7:20-24)
Charity is the Key to Wisdom
Our Lord exposes their hypocrisy — we see by what comes out of their hearts — their actions betray the bad fruit! This lack of charity is rooted in their unclean hearts – they are biased against Jesus because they value their own prejudice and self-interest above all – even in the face of the obvious miracle that Our Lord worked on the Sabbath to heal a man. It is a principle maintained by Saint Thomas Aquinas (Faith-Understanding-Clean Heart) which shows the reason why some souls fail to discern correctly the Mission and Messages of a true Seer. They lose the light of God’s Gift of Understanding because of their lack of charity and the attacks upon the credibility of the true Seer – to destroy him in the eyes of the people. Their hearts are not clean, thus they cannot see the Truth. However, what is worse – they attack the person in the name of virtue!!
On another occasion when Our Lord was in the Temple teaching – many people were gossiping about him: “Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.” (John 7:25-27)
Our Lord laments this prejudice and suffers deeply because of His people’s lack of faith. Jesus cried out in reply: “Yes, you know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me.” (John 7:28-29)
It is very similar for the Little Pebble today. Those persons who claim to be able to discern the authenticity of the Little Pebble, are the first to claim and profess that he is a charlatan, etc. They are the first to claim that they really know him for what he is! And yet, they do not know him. This is really sad. The Little Pebble finds it very easy to identify with Our Lord in the above passages of the Gospel because he really has not called himself to his Mission! He has not created himself as a Prophet and Seer of God! Anybody who really knows the history of his life will readily see that no man would ever go through the dishonor, rejection and loss that has come to him because of his fidelity to God’s Will! The same rule of discernment presented by Our Lord above applies to the Little Pebble.
Our Lord treated badly
For those who lose faith it is usually not enough for them to let it all be – they have to attack the Seer in order to feel themselves justified. This usually takes the form that “he is in error” and that “his messages are not from God” — in other words that the Seer is merely representing himself. It is ironic but always the same – they treated Our Lord in the same way:
“At this the Pharisees said to him,’You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid’. Jesus replied: ‘It is true that I am testifying on my own behalf, but my testimony is still valid, because I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one, but if I judge, my judgment will be sound, because I am not alone: the one who sent me is with me; and in your Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I may be testifying on my own behalf, but the Father who sent me is my witness too.” (John 8:13-18)
“I Am Not Alone: the One who sent me is with Me”
The Little Pebble is not alone either – the Triune God has sent him even though those who attack him cannot see or understand this fact. This is because their hearts are not clean. See how Our Lord upholds the truth that the testimony of two witnesses is valid – even though the Pharisees could not see the second witness — His Father! Our Lord maintains the validity of the principle – namely, of the witness of His Father even though He is invisible to them. It is the same for the Little Pebble – those who attack him cannot “see” the other invisible witness – God Himself; yet the testimony of the Little Pebble is true and valid in the same way as Our Lord, because the Triune God has sent the Little Pebble for their Work. The Little Pebble knows very well where he comes from and where he is going in this respect. The Triune God bears witness to their Prophet.
In summary – all that you have read above demonstrates the reason why people struggle to discern a Seer as authentic. They allow their hearts to become infected by rash judgments based upon their suspicions. Thus they lose the light of God which is freely given by the Gift of the Holy Ghost. The final outcome of which is the progressive loss of faith.
THE VIRTUE OF FAITH: is a gift of God which unites us with Him without removing the mystery. “Faith is certain. It is more certain than all human knowledge because it is founded on the very Word of God who cannot lie. To be sure, revealed truths can seem obscure to human reason and experience, but `the certainty that the Divine Light gives is greater than that which the light of natural reason gives’ `Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, article 157)
“One can say that what Joseph did united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary. He accepted as a truth coming from God the very thing that She had already accepted at the Annunciation. The Council teaches: `The obedience of faith’ must be given to God as He reveals Himself. By this obedience of faith man freely commits himself entirely to God, making `the full submission of his intellect and will to God Who reveals,’ and willingly assenting to the revelation given to him. This statement, which touches the very essence of faith, is perfectly applicable to Joseph of Nazareth.” (Pope John Paul II: Redemptoris Custos, article 4)
THE GIFT OF UNDERSTANDING: helps us penetrate deeper within the meaning of Divine truths of faith. It is a pure gift of God which is infused into our soul without us knowing how we understand the mysteries of faith. A simple example will explain this Gift – “we have a particular power of penetration for understanding the people we love. We do not need to talk in order to know their intimate thoughts or to share our own with them. In the same way, when the soul is united to God, it sees Him and knows Him by a direct and sweet experience” (The Sanctifier, page 176)
THE SIXTH BEATITUDE: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God”. Saint Thomas Aquinas explains: “For cleanness is twofold. One is a preamble and a disposition to seeing God and consists in the heart being cleansed of inordinate affections … The other cleanness of heart is a kind of complement to the sight of God; such is the cleanness of the mind that is purged of phantasms [fantasy] and errors, so as to receive the truths which are proposed to it about God.” (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae Q. 8, article 7) Perhaps this is better paraphrased in simpler expression: “Thus does Saint Thomas teach, explaining that cleanness of heart means not only freedom from the incitements of the passions … but freedom from errors, imaginations, illusions” (The Sanctifier, page 298)