Today’s first Mass reading, from Isaiah 29.17–24, and the chapter of the Rule of St Benedict we begin reading, RB 53, On the Reception of Guests, are both a little severe on how we interact with others and the potential dangers of doing so. For Isaiah there is the necessary caution to avoid gossip and incriminating others; for Benedict, the need to pray lest we be deceived by the devil. Jesus in the gospel, Matthew 9.27-31, cuts through all that by granting the blind clear sight, and that surely is what we need most — clarity of vision. Without it we are in the danger zone of muddled thinking, rash speech and stupid actions.
My choice of illustration for this post was not random. Not only is it a beautifully composed image, it is also eloquent. The smartphone has become for many of us an important way of connecting with others. It is immensely seductive. That tiny silvery glow, even in the dark of night, invites us to express thoughts and ideas we might hesitate to put into words face to face with someone; and, rather like reading an unputdownable book, we can easily find we have used up a lot of time intended for other purposes. In the monastery, that isn’t likely to happen because of the demands of the monastic timetable, but for those trying to make a good Advent, it can be more difficult. So, my suggestion for today is, try switching your ‘phone off for an hour if you can; listen to the silence (and silence is not broken by the sound of life going on around us); and you may find that you are listening to God.