Sometimes, the wisdom of the past reaches all the way into the present and begs to teach us something important. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, speaks for the Lord in saying, “Listen to my voice, then I will be your God, and you shall be my people. Follow what is right and proper to the end – the way that I mark out for you, and you will prosper.” (Jeremiah 7, 23-28) The reality is that our ancestors did not listen to His words. They followed the dictates of their own hearts, refused to face God, and turned their backs on Him.
Do we recall the words from Ash Wednesday? “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” They are words which launched us on this Lenten journey and have sustained us ever since. The age-old wisdom still speaks to us: we are called to listen carefully to God speaking to us in our lives.
Let us not be blinded by prejudice of any kind, which might prevent us from recognizing the signs, or the voice, or the hand of God in people and experiences we have during any ordinary day. There are so many times when we write off people and events and so fail to realize that God is saying something important to us through them. They may be saints or sinners – it does not matter. God can and does use any means to reach us.
For further reflection: When we are in a conversation with someone, it is common for our minds to drift to other thoughts. When our minds begins to wander, we are likely still “hearing” the other person, but we are not truly “listening” to what they have to say. How does this have an impact on our conversations and our relationships with people – if they feel that we are rarely “listening” to them?
Many people use the words “hearing” and “listening” interchangeably. But hearing is the passive intake of sound while listening is the act of intentionally working to comprehend the sounds we hear. Hearing is involuntary, it requires no effort, it is the perception of sound. And listening is active, voluntary, and requires effort. “Thus says the Lord: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice.” Jeremiah 7,23