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Belief unlocks understanding

A proverb in our culture is that "seeing is believing." With heavenly realities, we cannot perceive or understand them unless we first believe in the one who reveals them to us. "Unless you believe, you shall not understand" (St. Augustine).

Mark 4:10-13

10 And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables.

11 He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables,

12 so that ‘they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.’”[1]

Is 6:8-13

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

9 And he replied: Go and say to this people:
Listen carefully, but do not understand!
Look intently, but do not perceive!

10 Make the heart of this people sluggish,
dull their ears and close their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
and their heart understand,
and they turn and be healed.

11 “How long, O Lord?” I asked. And he replied:
Until the cities are desolate,
without inhabitants,
Houses, without people,
and the land is a desolate waste.

12 Until the LORD sends the people far away,
and great is the desolation in the midst of the land.

13 If there remain a tenth part in it,
then this in turn shall be laid waste;
As with a terebinth or an oak
whose trunk remains when its leaves have fallen.
Holy offspring is the trunk.

Jn 12:37-40

37 Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him,

38 in order that the word which Isaiah the prophet spoke might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed our preaching,
to whom has the might of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said:

40 “He blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not see with their eyes
and understand with their heart and be converted,
and I would heal them.”

Acts 28:25-28

25 Without reaching any agreement among themselves they began to leave; then Paul made one final statement. “Well did the holy Spirit speak to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, saying:

26 ‘Go to this people and say:
You shall indeed hear but not understand.
You shall indeed look but never see.

27 Gross is the heart of this people;
they will not hear with their ears;
they have closed their eyes,
so they may not see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart and be converted,
and I heal them.’

28 Let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

Rom 11:1-10

1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Of course not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.”

4 But what is God’s response to him? “I have left for myself seven thousand men who have not knelt to Baal.”

5 So also at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.

6 But if by grace, it is no longer because of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

7 What then? What Israel was seeking it did not attain, but the elect attained it; the rest were hardened,

8 as it is written:
“God gave them a spirit of deep sleep,
eyes that should not see
and ears that should not hear,
down to this very day.”

9 And David says:
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;

10 let their eyes grow dim so that they may not see,
and keep their backs bent forever.”


  1. Is 6:9; Jn 12:40; Acts 28:26; Rom 11:8.