Subject: Coming to an understanding
Golden text: Psalm 69:13*
[M]y prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
Mark 7: 31-37
Then [Jesus] returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
From 21st Century Science and Health**
The Teacher refrained from speaking the whole truth. Jesus declared precisely what would destroy sickness, sin, and death.
Earth’s preparatory school must be improved to the utmost.
Advance naturally from what we call matter into Spirit. Don’t try to frustrate the spiritual ultimate of all things by ignoring, or forcing, spirituality, but emerge gently into Spirit through better health and improved morals. Not death, but the understanding of Life, makes us spiritual.
Understanding is the line of separation between the real and unreal. Spiritual understanding unfolds Mind—Life, Truth, and Love—and demonstrates the divine sense, giving the spiritual proof of the universe in divine Science.
Spiritual understanding is not academic or only intellectual. It is not the result of scholarly book learning but is the reality of all things brought to light. God’s ideas reflect the immortal, unerring, and infinite. The mortal, erring, and finite are human beliefs, appointing themselves to the impossible task of distinguishing between the false and the true. Objects utterly unlike the original do not reflect that original. Therefore, material units, not being the reflection of Spirit, have no real entity. Understanding is a quality of God, a quality which separates divine Science from theories and makes Truth final.
Every day we must improve, discover, and utilize our spiritual faculties.
Spiritual sight, hearing, and so on, are eternal. Immortal senses cannot be lost. The reality and immortality of spiritual senses are in Spirit and understanding—hence their permanence. Spirit’s senses don’t involve themselves with fluctuating entities and energies. If the body’s physical senses were the medium through which to understand God, then paralysis, disabilities, blindness, and deafness would place people in terrible situations, “Without hope and without God in the world.” These calamities however often drive human beings to seek and find a more secure and meaningful sense of happiness and existence in Spirit.
And immediately all the crowd, when they saw [Jesus], were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.”
From 21st Century Science and Health
Why is it difficult to heal spiritually as Jesus did? Because people think miraculous healings are intended for particular time periods or for exclusive groups of followers. That thinking is pernicious, more pernicious than the old doctrine of predestination—a few to be saved while the others are damned. Human-made doctrines produce lethargy and so it is until broken by the demands of divine Science
Question. Does matter accompany spirituality, and is physical sense a necessary preliminary to the understanding and expression of Spirit?
Answer. If matter, or error, is necessary to define or to reveal Truth, the answer is yes; but not otherwise. Material sense is an absurd phrase, for materiality has no consciousness, no sense. Science declares that divine Mind, not material mind, sees, hears, feels, and speaks. Anything that contradicts that statement is the false sense which betrays human beings into sickness, sin, and death. Why slam Christian Science for instructing human beings how to make sin, disease, and beginnings and endings appear more and more unreal? If the unimportant and evil appear, only soon to disappear because of their uselessness or their iniquity, then these ephemeral views of error ought to be obliterated by Truth.
And [Jesus] answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
From 21st Century Science and Health
We need to become familiar with original Bible texts and be willing to give up misinterpretations established by hierarchies or instigated by the worst human passions. Familiarity with texts opens the way for divine Science to be understood and makes the Bible the map of life where the healing steps of Truth are pointed out.
Seeking is insufficient. Just saying you accept Christ Jesus is moot. An all-out effort to “do” enables us to change for the better and know eternity. Spiritual achievements open the door to a higher understanding of divine Life.
Mechanical prayers or rituals are not progressive. Prayer is a privilege, not to be taken for granted or abused. Seeking Truth doesn’t include paying someone else to do your praying for you.
Repetitious prayers bring to mortals what they believe will occur. We know a desire for holiness is necessary to gain holiness, but if we desire holiness above all else, we will sacrifice everything for it. We must be willing to surrender mortal thoughts that we may walk securely on the only practical road to immortality. Prayer can’t change the unalterable Truth, nor can prayer alone give us an understanding of Truth. Prayer, attached to a sincere intent to know and do God’s will, brings us into all Truth. Prayer is best expressed in thought and in life.
Effort spent living in the past, pursuing superficial goals, or showing off, is effort wasted.
Every prick of conscience, every twinge of agony, every effort to reform, every improved attitude and undertaking will help us understand Jesus’ atonement and promote its usefulness. Mortals, asleep at the wheel of spiritual progress, can’t habitually pray and repent and still feel included in the atonement—in the at-one-ment with God. Repentance is needed and repentance is more than feeling really bad. Contrition must be out lived with sincerity. Effective repentance reforms thinking and enables human beings to do the will of wisdom. We feel secure in God’s goodness when we try to demonstrate, even a little bit at a time, the divine Principle of the teachings and practice of the Teacher.
As “the arm of the Lord” is revealed, people will believe our report and rise to newness of life with regeneration. This is having part in the atonement and in the understanding of why Jesus suffered and triumphed. The time is nearer than we think, when human-made theologies, such as a superior race, everlasting damnation, or fundamentalisms will diminish, and equality, mindfulness, and individual responsibility will increase.
The time required for this dream of material life to disappear from consciousness, “No one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” The time it takes for us to stop embracing delusive pleasures and pains will be drawn out or shortened, depending on the tenacity of error. Of what advantage is it to prolong the illusion either of a catatonic soul or of a dying sufferer trapped in a body? What is better, to add years to mortal life, or to add life to years?
The understanding and recognition of Spirit must finally come and we may as well improve our time in solving the mysteries of being through an understanding of divine Principle.
I John 2:7-8
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
From 21st Century Science and Health
If individuals end in death, maybe to return again from dust, there must be instances when God is without the entire manifestation. But in the infinite, there can’t be one instant when Mind isn’t fully reflected.
In Science, person is not young or old; we have no birth or death; we are not a beast, a vegetable, or an evolving mind advancing from mortality to Mind. We don’t go from the materialist to the spiritual. We do not rise from evil to good, or even shift from good to evil. Confessing to a state of mortality throws us headlong into darkness and dogma. Too much is written on that which advocates pictures of mortal phases and helplessness. It is better to label people with the everlasting grandeur and immortality of improvement, spiritual power, and prestige.
The error of thinking that we are growing old, and the benefits of destroying that illusion, has noticeable results. Most of us have met someone considered old but very much young in thought and action. Many are interviewed and questioned. Are they lucky? Is it their genes? Is it the food they eat? Maybe or maybe not, however, they usually always attribute their longevity to a positive and loving attitude. They have an awareness of good-will and ongoing life—not an awareness of stages with beginnings and endings.
The mistake of thinking that we are growing old, and the benefits of destroying that illusion, make for a better life. Frowning, wrinkles, and gray hair are not laws, while youthfulness and nobility are attributes of God.
Why not maintain a mental attitude of wanting to learn and grow? Why not be conscious of unchanging divine Love rather than human love? Why not notice the manifestations of Spirit rather than the passing of years?
*Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
** Text from 21st Century Science and Health, 6th edition, copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen.
 Eph. 2:12
 Isa. 53:1
 Matt. 24:36 (ESV)