WHAT DO YOU HEAR? Second Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B
No age in the history of the world has had as many messages broadcast as our own. The great amount of messages sent from many different sources doesn’t necessarily mean that they are heard or listened to. The radio and TV can be on without anyone listening or hearing. Newspapers can be filled with messages and go unread. The amount of preaching and teaching is far greater than the amount of listening and hearing.
In having so much to listen to and hear, there is a tendency to put off really listening and hearing anything. While we have to be selective in what we listen to and hear, it’s important that we do listen to and hear what is very important to our life. Who and what we hear and listen to determines in many ways who and what we follow and how we come to perceive and live our life.
If it’s clear that not everything that is said is heard or listened to on the human level, it is equally clear that not everything the Lord says is heard or listened to. Many listen to the Lord much like they do to a commercial that has been blasted at them for hundreds of times, which means that they don’t listen very carefully, or think they know what is being said. If the need for a product becomes clear to us, we may begin to listen more carefully to an advertisement. If the need for something spiritual becomes more conscious, we may begin to listen more carefully to God’s Word. The more we listen, the more we hear!
The first book of Samuel tells us how Samuel himself had to gradually learn when, where, and how the Lord was speaking to him. “At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord, because the Lord had not yet revealed anything to him as yet.” Like smart advertisers who know they need to speak their messages many times before they are listened to, heard and responded to, so the Lord continues to speak to us, as He did to Samuel, until he begins to listen, hear and respond. He had to gradually develop his listening skills to discern the Word of the Lord. We too have to gradually learn over a period of time to listen carefully to the Lord, and the ways we can do that. When we hear the Lord in our life, we can respond as Samuel did. “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
The Lord is more likely to speak to those who want Him to speak to them. We are more inclined to speak to those who want to hear what we have to say. Psalm 40 describes the kind of listener most likely to hear the Lord. “I have waited, waited for the Lord and He stooped toward me and heard my cry…Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.” The word obey means to listen to. An obedient ear is a listening ear! The disobedient don’t listen and would rather not hear. If someone wants to go against the Lord’s ways, they don’t want to hear.
The message of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is one that needs to be listened to as much in our day as when he first gave it. It deals with immoral sexuality, which many in our time are most reluctant to listen to. The listening to and acceptance of this important truth would lead many to live differently. “The body is not for immorality; it is for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body…Do you not see that your bodies are members of Christ?” Accepting these basic truths would lead to avoiding the sins of impurity and fornication. “You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within, the Spirit you have received from God.”
John the Baptizer proclaimed his message to many people. A few listened carefully. “As he watched Jesus walk by he said, ‘Look! There is the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said, and followed Jesus.” Their listening, hearing and acting on what they heard gave a new direction to their lives. This allowed Jesus to speak to them more directly. The more they listened, the more they heard. Jesus invited them to “Come and see”.
They were among the original disciples and apostles. Their own lives were changed greatly and they went on to change the lives of others down through the ages who have followed their example and listened, heard, and followed the Lord. Be like them!