Listening is not as easy of a feat as we think it might be, yet it is essential. Only a person that knows how to listen can have a spiritual life. It is by listening that we take things in and we allow things to change us. It is by listening that we find the motivation to move forward. Also, it is by listening that we welcome people into our hearts.
Perhaps our greatest temptation is to not listen. We don’t want to listen, or we hear without hearing. The people in the Gospel today react to Jesus saying “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” They are not able to receive the message of Christ.
Perhaps they are reacting with wounded pride, saying to themselves, how can He be better than us. Often, we care more about controlling our circumstances and measuring things according to what we already know than we care about what is Good, Beautiful and True. We care more about how we feel then we do about what is true.
Perhaps they have had very busy and stressful lives, or at least that is the excuse we give them. Maybe they have been running around from thing to thing and they no longer take a step back to think about where they are and where they are going. Minds that are full of too many things are usually too full to listen.
Perhaps they are addicted to the world and all the pleasure that it gives. If they are escaping into any kind of addictive behavior that too would stop them from listening. They are too hungry for their next fix to be able to truly listen to anything else. When someone speaks to them they can no longer hear what that person has to say.
In fact, a person must let go of all of this in order to truly listen to Jesus Christ or even have a spiritual life at all. We must be empty in order to be filled. It is a heart that trusts in God and leaves everything in His hands, that does not hold onto thing that is truly able to let go and let God.
Let us once again learn the art of listening.
Fr Michael Therese