LISTEN UP! Many of us have probably used the phrase ‘Are you listening?’ at some point in our lives. Maybe as a parent you’ve said it to your child, or maybe it’s been said to a coworker, or maybe even to a friend in the midst of a conversation. A lot of times ‘Are you listening?’ also means something more than just ‘Did you hear me?’ The word ‘listening’ tends to carry with it some element of not only hearing the person, but understanding and even responding to them!
This week’s Gospel has a phrase which Jesus often uses to draw our attention: “Let anyone with ears listen!” It’s basically a phrase which tells his audience “Hey! This thing I’m talking about is really important! Listen up!” I think Jesus uses this line as much for us living in 2017 as he did for those listening to him in person. How tempting is it sometimes to simply tune out in the middle of Mass or in the middle of prayer – or even to avoid these things altogether! We might have heard this parable of the sower a hundred times before. We might have said the Our Father often enough that the words have lost their meaning to us. In short, we may be hearing but not listening!
One of the most important points Jesus makes in the Gospel this week is about our willingness to receive God’s word. He seems obsessed with the very notion of ‘Are you listening?’ The parable of the sower begs us to look at ourselves and ask honestly: In what way are we opening ourselves to what God is speaking to us? Paul points out that receiving God Word might have some growing pains involved, and Christ’s words tell us that maybe we may have to clear out some rocks or thorns from our lives, but the First Reading, I think, is the crux of the matter – “My Word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which I sent it.” The seeds and the words which God has planted and continues to plant within us have a purpose which will be fulfilled – the hard part on our end is listening to those words and letting them grow within us. God will do the heavy lifting; God will make that seed grow into new life; our part is listening to Him and cooperating with that growth within us.
Focus this week on the ways in which God may be speaking to you through prayer, scripture, sacraments, but also through those around us prompting us to grow and be a better person, a more Christ-like person, than we were yesterday. This is the purpose for which God sent his Word out into the world: to make us more like him, to be vessels of his Love for all those we meet. This is why Jesus is so keen to have us listen to him! Because when we do, we yield so much more than we would by ourselves: Thirty, sixty, a hundredfold! Let anyone who has ears listen!
Peace and All Good,