SAINT JANUARIUS, BISHOP AND MARTYR (OPTIONAL MEMORIAL)
Take care, then, how you hear.
While volunteering at a summer camp for hearing-impaired children, a man saw a ten-year-old boy receive a new, more advanced hearing device. When the boy heard distinct sounds for the first time in his life, he squealed loudly in delight. It was such a joyful sound that the man would never forget it.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges his listeners to consider how they hear his words. But like that young boy, we don’t always hear loudly or distinctly without some kind of assistance. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit. He acts as a kind of hearing aid for us, amplifying and improving our ability to hear. He can impress on our ears, our hearts, and our minds the meaning of Jesus’ words for our everyday life.
This may sound simple, but it’s not automatic. We need to cooperate with the Spirit. We can start by consciously taking in God’s word. There is always a temptation to listen only superficially to the Scriptures, whether it’s the readings proclaimed at Mass or our own “hearing” as we read them ourselves. If you are having trouble focusing, you can ask the Spirit to help you let go of any worries or distractions that might be interfering with your ability to listen.
After you’ve read or listened to a Scripture passage, you can try to sit quietly for a bit and ponder what the Lord might be saying to you through it. The Spirit may lead you to a phrase that speaks to your life at the moment. Or he may help you understand a familiar passage in a new and different way.
It’s not only through the Scriptures that the Lord speaks to us; he may also use another person to communicate something important. So keep your ears open! If someone says something that strikes you, ask the Holy Spirit if it was a word that the Lord wanted you to consider.
When Jesus told us to “take care” how we hear, he wasn’t speaking only to those who were listening to him that day; he meant it for us as well. But he didn’t leave us on our own. Instead, he gave us an indispensable helper: the Holy Spirit, the best “hearing aid” we could ever have!
“Holy Spirit, I’m listening! Help me to hear and understand God’s word.”