Listen to Him

March 13, 2015
Columnist

By Deacon Al Guilin

St. Sebastian’s Church

This is my beloved Son, listen to him. (Mk 9:7)  The voice speaks to Peter, James and John on the mountain of Transfiguration.  No doubt these three men must have been terrified.  There they were on the mountain, a place that was foreign to them, hearing a voice they could not comprehend and probably wondering what it all meant.

Now listening is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do under normal circumstances. But a strange place, strange people, and a mysterious voice would have made the encounter even more difficult. 

But when we consider the voices in our present day the mystery continues and perhaps is even more difficult to comprehend.  Consider all the messages we receive in a day.  We get communications from the newspapers, television, Facebook, Twitter, books and on and on.  When compared with the single voice on the mountain, we face multiple challenges in understanding what’s going on.

The reality is that at present the only way we can keep from going nuts is that we must be selective.  And in the way this selectivity is not only necessary but also challenging and at times even dangerous.  Because we must use our personal message filters to keep from going crazy.  So our filters are our knowledge, comprehension, politics, spirituality, prejudices, background, culture and our community.  A good term for this might be selective listening.  Well by now you’re probably saying to yourself how can we equate the conversation on the mountain to the present?  Good question.

To this I would say how can we explain, wars, killings and conflicts we see every day on television or on many of the current communications channels?  Or how can we explain our difficulties with those in our community, our neighbors or even members of our own family?  

Perhaps one problem is that because listening is such a common occurrence that we give it little attention.  For example, I went all through college, graduated and was never offered a class in listening.  Most of us will go though out our education process and take courses in many, many disciplines but a course in listening would probably not be a class offering.  Perhaps we’ll get a lecture here and there; if we’re lucky. 

Then perhaps it is because of these problems that this spiritual message is so important.  So much that it may very well be that listening is one of the most important messages in our Bible and in many other spiritual traditions as well.   

But before we listen to him we should listen to ourselves.  That is we should know ourselves.  We must acknowledge our filters, our prejudices (let’s face it we all have them in abundance.)  But once we know what they are they become part of our conversation and listening process.

At times, we must act quickly with only the smattering of information. However, with training and discipline and building on past information and knowledge we have a good chance to make the correct decision. 

In this Lenten season we have the opportunity to delve more deeply into our selves.  So that when we listen and understand ourselves we’ll be more apt to listen and understand Him and our brothers and sisters.

Finally as we welcome what has been revealed to us during Lent, Easter becomes more significant.





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