Scripture: Lectionary 333. Feb.10. I Kings 11:29-32.12:19. Psalm 81:10-11.12-13.14-15. Mark 7:31-37
Listening (hearing) is a frequent word and theme in the Bible. This helps us to ponder over God’s word when we hear the word “listen” attentively to what God is saying and what the Son of God is telling us to do as his disciples in this world of ours. Jesus listened to the greatest prayer in the Hebrew Scriptures which is a covenant and a creed: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one, the only Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
We often pray the psalms and they too are mostly about listening or asking the Lord to listen to our pleas and needs. A good attitude in praying these psalms is to have a “listening heart”; the Benedictines speak of an “ear of the heart” while at prayers.
Jesus had to listen to the requests for healing before he could actually perform his miracles and exorcisms. Today in Mark we read of his curing a man who was deaf. Jesus groans with compassion for him, touches his tongue and then with his spittle puts his fingers into the ears of the deaf one. He cries out in Aramaic “Ephphatah” (Open, be opened). The man is then cured and he now can listen to the Lord and pray with a listening heart. Though he is told to be silent, he cannot restrain himself from speaking good about Jesus. People who knew of his deafness certainly listened to his story with amazement.
Spiritual counseling and spiritual direction require the art of listening. Both the director and the one seeking direction are there to listen to one another. Often in doing so, the spiritual director is helped in the time set aside for this and has a chance to reflect on what he or she has learned. Both the director and the one given direction grow through the act of listening; they are then more open to the graces that are given both in direction and what follows it. The direction in spiritual matters is called an art, but it is more than that, it is a mutual graced experience. One surrenders one’s own thoughts and judgments to listen to God’s voice speaking through the other. It is an I-Thou relationship that leads both to listen to God while speaking and listening to one another.
Jesus performed many wonders and cures because he was open to listening to people who needed his help. He took their needs to his sacred heart and displayed the wonders through his hands. Amen.