The word “listen” can have more than one meaning.
“Listen” can mean stop talking and settle down.
“Listen” can mean pay attention to what is being said.
“Listen” can mean do as you are told, be obedient.
“Listen” can mean notice the subtle sounds around you.
“Listen” can mean redirect your thoughts.
In Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 9:2-10), Jesus takes Peter, James, and John and leads them up a high mountain. There Jesus shines with divine glory and a voice from the heavens declares, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
The command to “listen” was not meant only for those three disciples standing on a mountain of rock. It is also meant for us. For God has brought us up the mountain of faith, made us part of his Church, and called us to listen to his Son.
But listening to God’s beloved Son means more than just hearing his words proclaimed in the readings at Mass or “hearing” them as we read the scriptures at home.
Listening to God’s beloved Son means quieting the thoughts competing for our attention and concentrating on what the Lord is saying to us.
Listening to God’s beloved Son means taking his words to heart and making them the guide for our lives. It means obeying his words of instruction.
Listening to God’s beloved Son means noticing the small and subtle ways that God speaks to us through other people and through events in our lives.
But such listening to the Lord is more difficult than ever. For we live in a society that continually clamors that we listen to its words – words that come at us through social media, streaming services, cable news, and the entertainment industry.
Such listening to the Lord is a greater challenge today when there are so many self-proclaimed experts, life-coaches, celebrities, and influencers promoting what they consider to be the way to fulfillment, happiness, and peace.
Such listening to the Lord requires strong faith and trust in God. The very idea of God and the hope of eternal life are attacked as wishful thinking or seen as evidence of a feeble mind afraid to face its mortality.
This Lent is a time for us to evaluate what kind of listening we are giving to God’s beloved Son. If our listening only amounts to letting the sound of his words touch our ears, we are not doing what God expects of us.
Listening to God’s beloved Son only starts with hearing his words. It ends when his words have influenced our actions and changed our understanding of life. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Really listen!
© 2021 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski