“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” – Mark 4:9
We’ve all been in a situation—whether it’s with a friend, a spouse, a child, or a coworker—where we think “Is he even listening to me?” Maybe we even ask this question aloud.
Feeling ignored or invisible often results in terrible hurt.
Such is the case with God when we turn our backs on Him—inadvertently or on purpose.
Though we are imperfect, God desires us. To each of us, He says: “I want you.”
Think about those three words. Feel the emotion and the impact. Christ wants every single of us. He wants us so much that He despairs when we are lost. And more than anything, He wants us to say those words back to Him. He wants us to want Him too.
Lent begins in just a few days. During these six weeks, we prepare for His death and resurrection. We anguish at the pain He will suffer, but we rejoice at His triumph over death.
If this sacrifice doesn’t get our attention, nothing will. It’s like God was saying, “Are you listening now?”
God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die. He sent Him to rise. He sent Him so that we could live!
Are we listening?
Do we listen on a daily basis? Do we listen to the gospels, to Church teaching, and to the commandments, which teach us how to treat others? Or do we just hear them and ignore them or make excuses as to why we behave a certain way?
When we ignore the commandments or try to skirt around the meaning of each, we hurt God. When we pick and choose which we want to follow, we have closed our ears to God. If we believe that crimes against humanity—such as abortion and euthanasia—are things relegated to a person’s “choice,” we have closed our ears to God’s word. And when we skip Mass or disrespect Christ in the Eucharist, we have closed our ears and our hearts to God.
But Christ’s mercy triumphs over all of that because still He says: “I want you.”
And those three words should stop us in our tracks.
This Lent, let us say those words back to Him. Let us not only say them in prayer, but say them with our actions, for prayer is not just about reciting a Hail Mary or an Our Father. Prayer is a dialog between us and God. It’s talking to Him, telling Him our thoughts and feelings, expressing our joys and sorrows, asking for His help, and praising Him for all His blessings. And then it’s listening when He responds.
Chances are that God will not speak to us the way He spoke to Moses in the burning bush, but God will speak. Many years ago, Carmelite priest Fr. Killian J. Healy wrote:
God does not have to use external words and signs to attract our attention and convey ideas to us. He enters our minds directly. He speaks secretly, noiselessly, as befits the Divinity. It is only by faith that we know He is working in us.
Indeed, God is working in us. As John 10:27-28 says: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.”
We know that listening to the word of God transforms us. It gives us clarity and hope. It revives our spirit and makes us into new people. It leads us to Him.
But we have to listen.
Let us make this Lent about growing closer to the Father who loves us so much that He asked His Son to die for us. Let us make this Lent more about listening than talking.