“Listen to him.”
We’ve all had the experience. We may be paging through the Scripture readings for the day, or (half-)listening to the lector proclaiming the Word at Mass. Suddenly, a phrase strikes us like a lightning bolt. Our heads and hearts do a double-take. We’re sure we’ve never read or heard those words before, but today they seize us. They seem to be written just for us. We hear, we pay attention, we listen.
The readings for this Second Sunday of Lent capture me with the words: “Listen to him.” The voice from the cloud that hovers over Jesus in today’s Gospel summons us to listen deeply and intently to Jesus, the One who is God’s beloved. Listen to the One with whom God is “well pleased.” Listen, and learn, and take in whatever he says and does. Suspend judgments and questions and wonderings. Make space in your mind and heart to let Jesus in. Just “listen to him.”
It’s no simple matter to listen. It’s a lifetime commitment. And make no mistake: listening – to Jesus, to another person, to our own deepest longings – will change us in ways we can’t begin to imagine.
“Listen” is the first word of the Prologue to the ancient Rule of St. Benedict.
Elizabeth Seton invites us “to listen to God in prayer, opening the ears of our hearts to receive his holy word.”
Padraig O Tuáma, poet, theologian and builder of community in Northern Ireland, invites us to sit still and listen each day: “…Every morning I sit, I kneel, waiting, making friends with the habit of listening, hoping that I’m being listened to. There, I greet God in my own disorder….I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day. I greet my own small world and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day….I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet….”
Jesus Christ is constantly “greeting” us in his Word, in creation, in life’s happenings, and in people, especially those living in poverty. Just listen to him. He won’t disappoint.
–Sr. Regina Bechtle
Sr. Regina, a retreat leader, speaker, writer and spiritual director, serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York.