24TH MARCH 2022
LISTENING IS DOING, LISTENING IS NOW.
The response to today's Psalm is: O that today you would listen to his voice. Harden not your hearts.
This call to listen has an imperative that for you to be able to listen you must not harden your heart. A hard heart blocks or impedes you from generally, the word listen means to pay attention thoughtfully, to be alert and to give due consideration to an issue. This means that listening is a serious thing. As people of faith, we should differentiate between hearing and listening because the former entails being aware of sounds but the latter is about paying attention to the sounds and voices that are going on around you.
You can hear a sound without wanting to but you can only be listening to a sound intentionally. Listening should make you pause and think and then make a critical and definite decision in relation to what you have paid attention to.
We have noted that the call to listen in today's Psalm comes with an imperative not to have a hardened heart and to listen today. A hardened heart is cold, intolerant, indifferent and prejudiced. This call to listen has been repeated based on the fact that at a place called Meribah, at Massah in the desert, the people never listened to the voice of God. This repetition means that listening is a continuous process.
What is it that actually happened at Meribah and Massah that made the Israelites have a hard heart to the point of not listening to the voice of God. It is recorded in Exodus 17 that the Israelites quarreled with Moses in the desert about the lack of water and he rebuked them for testing God until God allowed Moses to strike a rock to produce water. In this quarreling they asked: Is the Lord with us or not?
On the above account, the place gained the name Meribah meaning quarreling and the name Massah meaning testing. The Israelites preffered going back to Egypt.
What circumstances sorround us, that make it difficult for us to listen to the voice of God and live according to it?
What does listening mean biblically? According to the First Reading from the book of Jeremiah it comes out that listening is obeying, listening is accepting discipline and truth. Listening has no arguments because are only being asked to listen to what is positive and helpful and listening therefore is not about obeying what is wrong.
When Jesus casts out demons in today's Gospel reading, it is a good action that should make the people listen to him but instead they listen to their own ideas that it is Beelzebul who helps Jesus to cast out demons.
When the enemies of Jesus were helpless to oppose him objectively, they resorted to slander, jealousy and malice and all these attitudes make them indifferent thus unable to listen to him.
The listening that we are being called into is first of all appreciative so as to help us have spiritual joy as is the case in today's Psalm. It is also empathic because it entails mutual concern and focusing on the one speaking and not on yourself and this is what the opponents of Jesus were supposed to do.
It is also comprehensive and critical as it calls you to actively participate in the ideas of God and this is what God told Jeremiah to tell the people in the First Reading. God told the people: “Walk in my ways" but they did not. We learn today that listening is today (now) and listening is doing.