First Reading: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Spiritual "Ears"

Why do people classify themselves at "conservative" or "liberal?" How do these labels apply to the spiritual life?

1 Thus says YHWH, "Keep justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to YHWH, to minister to him, and to love the name of Yahweh, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant; 7 even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."

World English Bible

The spiritual life is a balancing act between the head and the heart, between the interior life and the communal experience, between tradition and innovation. The truly spiritual person is not conservative or liberal. That person asks: What is worth conserving? What needs to be liberated? The answers to these questions do not depend upon the certainty of faith or the emotional rush to change in the name of justice. They depend upon the act of listening. To the self. To others. And to God. To listen requires balance.

The so-called Third Isaiah faced these questions. Writing during the rebuilding of the Temple in the fifth century B.C., the author faced an increasingly inclusive Jerusalem. The locals rejected foreigners, Samaritans, and "unworthy" Jews. The purity of the people and their worship was paramount.

Or was it? In these few verses, Third Isaiah asked the question: who is acceptable to God? Underneath the question was the issue of spiritual balance. Yes, faithfulness to God and his covenant was important. But, did such faithfulness exclude those outside? Didn't God love all his creatures, including the eunuch (55:3-5, not in the reading itself) and the Gentile? But how does the believer live the righteous life and engage those who life morally-questionable lives? Again this was a question of balance that required spiritual "ears."

How does one spiritually listen? 55:1 gives us the key: prayer and the moral life. How the believer integrates both in a sincere effort reflects the ability to listen and to balance.

How have you grown your spiritual "ears?" How have you integrated your prayer and moral life?