My ears sometimes get tired. Do yours? Our world is so full of sounds that sometimes I think I don’t really hear anything clearly. When there is true silence, it almost scares me. No music, no background noises, no machines humming and ticking and beeping. I love to walk along the bay either early in the morning or late in the evening and just listen to the sounds of nature – minus all our distracting noises. Our ears are mostly over-stimulated. And, of course, we defend ourselves against all the noise.
Into a storm of conflicting voices, Jesus speaks truth. Jesus does not scream; he is not deafening. In fact, Jesus often whispers in tones so low that we do not pay any attention to him because of all the other voices vying for our attention. Yet Jesus continues to speak. The problem is that while Jesus is speaking few seem to be listening. Jesus’ first parable was about our need to listen. Give attention to the following exposition of that parable by Eugene Peterson.
Ears to Hear
St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke agree in placing Jesus’ parable about hearing, with its staccato conclusion, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” as the first of the parables. If the divine word is primary, then human hearing is essential: that we hear is required; the way we hear is significant. The parable, with its metaphor of soil for ears, provides an ingenious tool for a self-administered hearing test: What is the quality of my hearing? Are my ears thick with callouses, impenetrable like a heavily trafficked path? Are my ears only superficially attentive like rocky ground in which everything germinates but nothing takes root? Are my ears like an indiscriminate weed patch in which the noisy and repetitive take up all the space without regard for truth, quality, beauty, or fruitfulness? Or are my ears good soil which readily receives God’s word, well-tilled to welcome deep roots, to discriminately choose God’s word and reject the lies of the world, to accept high responsibility for protecting and practicing the gift of hearing in silence, reverence, and attentiveness so that God’s word will be heard, understood, and believed?
“Are you listening to this?
Really listening?” - Mark 4:9
In our world the cacophony of voices is unlikely to subside. Each day we will be overwhelmed with voices demanding our attention. And into each of our lives Jesus will gently speak truth – words of grace and peace. The only question is, will we be listening for them or will they simply be lost in the noise?
The quality of our lives is determined by the voices we allow to enter our ears…