Studies consistently show that learning new things is not only possible for people as they age, but also vital for keeping the human mind healthy. Doing crossword puzzles, learning a new language, or gaining new skills keep our brains flexible. Learning prevents a literal hardening of mind.
Jesus warns the disciples against a hardened heart—“the leaven of the Pharisees.” A hard heart cannot grow or expand. It cannot see the new things God is doing. The Pharisees are consistently blinded to the gifts Jesus brings because they try to fit him into the strict rules of who they know God to be. Their imaginations fall short; their leaven falls flat.
Jesus warns his disciples not to get caught in the same pattern. He reminds them of the wicker baskets of loaves he provided from scarcity. He reminds them of how God provides beyond their expectations.
Just as we can keep our minds fresh through learning, we can soften our hearts and open our imaginations through listening.
As we follow the voice of God, we are called to live outside the bounds of what we imagined possible. God will always challenge us—through the voices of those we disagree with, through the words of the Gospel, through life’s changing circumstances—to see God as more than we imagined.
We are called to eternity, to endless life with God. There is no limit to the love of God we can receive or give—if only we listen, and let our hearts and minds grow in response.