“Anyone who has ears should listen”
The art of listening is a skill often overlooked by most people, yet it is one of the most important qualities we can possess. The fact that we have two ears and only one mouth should tell us something – even if only to listen twice as much as we talk!
Active listening is one of the highest compliments you can pay people. Listening is paying full attention to the other and welcoming them into our very beings. Jesus was fond of saying that anyone who has ears to listen ought to listen.
Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ [Mark 7:34] Jesus said this to the deaf man. This man represents all of us who have become deaf to God’s word and mute in our witnessing. We may not really be deaf, but sometimes we can be selectively deaf. We close our ears to the truths communicated to us by God, especially those which hurt us or pose any serious challenge to us.
The miracle is not only about the physical healing of person who was deaf and dumb. It also points to the opening of a person’s ears so that he may hear the word of God, and loosening of his tongue so that he may speak his profession of faith in Jesus. The miracle has great relevance to us, because a person can have perfect hearing, and yet not hear the word of God, have perfect speech, and yet be unable to make an act of faith.
There is another element within the Gospel story that has great relevance. Jesus took the man aside so they could be by themselves, away from the crowd. Jesus does that for each of us. He gives us countless opportunities to meet him alone, in the stillness of our hearts. It is where he meets us frequently. It is also where he touches us and offers us healing.
In a recent prayer experience one of the participants said that God did not speak to her as such. But she also shared that things happened during the day that seemed to point her in a specific direction, or someone said something that touched her heart. When invited to more deeply contemplate these encounters she came to a realisation that God was indeed speaking to her through others or through seemingly ordinary life events.
God loves to speak to us, sending us messages of love, hope, encouragement and direction. It may well be in the embrace of a loved one or in the beauty of a sunrise – God is truly present in moments such as these.
God certainly speaks to us through Scripture. “I have called you by name: you are mine” [Isaiah 43:1]. “You must love one another as I have loved you” [John 13:34].” I have loved you with an everlasting love and so I still maintain my faithful love for you” [Jeremiah 31:3]. It is in spending time with these verses that you hear them as personal messages from God to you – messages of love. This is truth. God’s love transforms us. The power of God’s Love is working in our lives to transform sorrow into joy, sickness into health, death into new life. In order to perceive and proclaim God’s message, we need to be transformed.
Spiritual author Max Lucado says: Our ears, unlike our eyes, do not have lids. They are intended to remain open! How long has it been since you had your hearing checked? When God sows seed your way, what is the result?
Remember, “… it is in that way faith comes, from hearing, and that means hearing the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).
“Ephphatha!” This is the same word spoken to us by the priest when we were baptised. And now Jesus says it to us again: “Ephphatha!” Be opened. Not only should we open our ears, our mouth and our minds, let us open our hearts to welcome Jesus, not selectively but entirely, regardless of whether his message is pleasant or painful. Then he will change us, and transform our lives that we may become the living Gospel in the world today. Let us bring home the words of the Psalmist: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” As it is said, “We do not change the message; it is the message that must change us.” Try to listen for God’s messages today. Be opened!