Hebrews 10: 19-25
Mark 4: 21-25
"…Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear…"
When I was studying to become a Deacon, Fr. Frank, the instructor in our final year, would periodically say "This is important, listen up" (which translated meant: this information is going to be on your final!).
Throughout Jesus’ public ministry, as mentioned in today’s Gospel, Jesus repeats this same message; "Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear…" He is saying,"This is important, listen up". I have found in my own spiritual journey that indeed Jesus continues to speak to me in many different ways, but especially through Scripture. Jesus’ words give us a design for living that, if followed to the best of our ability, brings peace, serenity and joy to our lives. That doesn’t mean that we won’t face challenges and failures. We will, but our ability to "listen up" will always help us to walk through those experiences with grace and dignity.
For many years, my prayer life was about my talking to God and asking for things; I wasn’t much of a listener. I have come to learn that I need to put on my "spiritual ears" each day and spend time in quiet and solitude in order to discern God’s will for me today. God’s will for us each day involves action – being of service to those in need.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to let His light shine through us and to use the gifts, talents and abilities He has given each of us in order to help build up His kingdom. Jesus reminds us that we will be forgiven for our shortcomings only to the same degree that we are willing to forgive others. When we practice forgiveness, we learn to trust in Christ. We no longer have anything to hide and we are able to live in truth ("listen up…this is important").
The Gospel becomes more valuable and meaningful to us as we give it away to others. The more we share the truth with others, the more the Lord seems to share His truth with us. As we share our faith, we are making an investment in our own spiritual growth.
I am reminded of a spiritual truth which says that God gave us two ears and only one mouth, so maybe He wants us to do more listening than talking. "Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear…"
Deacon Brian Clements is a retired member of the staff at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California