2nd Sunday of Lent
A teacher confronted one of her students about his inability to understand the lessons she was teaching. “Do you have hearing problem?” asked the teacher. “No,” the student replied, “I have listening problem.”
There is a lot of difference between hearing and listening. I remember another anecdote: A class in music appreciation was asked the difference between hearing and listening. A hand went up and a youngster offered this wise definition: “Listening is wanting to hear.”
Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has this observation – which is worth-thinking about: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” It is said that God gave us two ears and only one mouth, so that we would listen more than talk.
Today’s gospel reading narrates the story of the Lord’s transfiguration. It also tells us that a voice from the cloud said: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” “Listen to him… Listen to my Son.” – that is God’s solemn command to us. Since this was said during the transfiguration of Jesus, we are somehow being told by that mysterious voice: “If you want to experience transfiguration… if you want to be transfigured like my Son… then, listen to him… Follow him… Be like him.”
Sin, in its core, is disobedience to God. It is the refusal to listen to God. The word obedience comes from a combination of two Latin words, ob and audire, which literally means “to listen to” – and it implies “to listen with attentiveness.” So, obedience demands listening with attentiveness. Sin is the refusal to listen to God’s words and commands. Sin is not listening to God, thus, not following God. All the great dysfunctions and bad things in the world come from the “primal problem of refusing to listen to the voice of God.” (Bishop Robert Barron) All evil and sin, all wickedness and sinfulness, all corruption and immorality in the world is rooted in our refusal to listen to God. Nagkakawindang-windang ang personal na buhay natin, nagkakagulu-gulo ang pamilya natin, nagkakaloku-loko ang bayan natin. Bakit? Kasi hindi tayo nakikinig nang buong taimtim sa Panginoon.
God’s command to us to listen to his Son Jesus has to be put in the context of the so many things in our society telling us to listen to this or that: the voices of money, power, prestige, title, comfort, convenience, the esteem of others, academic honors, career achievements… They all compete to get our attention – calling us out to follow them. We hear all kinds of voices around us – loud and confusing voices: telling us what to do, where to go, how to think, whom to follow… teaching us how to get ahead of others in this competitive world… making us think only of our own welfare, security, and interests… persuading us to embrace and live out the values of materialism… offering us their own brand of thrill, enjoyment, and happiness… trying to entertain us and give us pleasure and satisfaction.
Sad to say, if we honestly examine ourselves, we would discover that we are listening to so many voices, other than Jesus’. We hear everything else but the Voice of Jesus. And because we are listening to other voices instead of listening to Jesus, the Voice of Love, our life gets confused and it loses direction.
Let us take to heart God’s command to us, especially this Lenten season: “Listen to him. Listen to my beloved Son.” Again, “Listening is wanting to hear.” It is wanting to hear Jesus’ message of forgiveness and love – in the midst of the voices that tell us to hate and retaliate. It is wanting to hear his teachings, reminders, and admonitions – in the midst of so many self-proclaimed gurus and experts. It is wanting to hear his call to service and ministry – in the midst of the voices that tell us be concerned about ourselves and our families only – and to stay in our comfort zones. It is wanting to hear Jesus speak to us personally in silence, in solitude, in prayer.
Lent is clearly a call to listen to Jesus more attentively. “Listen to him” because he speaks the truth. “Listen to him” to realize the deepest truth about yourself – that you too are God’s beloved. “Listen to him” to be nourished, to be nurtured, to be loved… to be guided, to be directed, to be enlightened.
Let us end with a prayer: God, our Father, You tell us to listen to Your Son Jesus. Help us, then, to tune in to His Voice always and to follow His promptings that Your blessings may flow freely and abundantly through our life. May we constantly hear His Voice telling us that we are Your beloved. Amen.