During this 3rd week of Lent, our Scripture readings call us to LISTEN. We could say that is a topic for the whole season of Lent! After all, listening is an important part of prayer. How well do we listen?
On Monday, we hear about Naaman the Syrian finally listening to the prophet Elisha to plunge into the Jordan River to be cleansed of his leprosy. He resisted at first, but when he listened and heeded God’s word, he washed and was cured. [2 Kings 5:1-15] In Luke’s Gospel [4:24-30], Jesus speaks in his hometown of Nazareth but when the people heard him speak, they did not accept his prophetic words, and drove him out of town. They did not listen with opened hearts.
In Tuesday’s Gospel, we hear Jesus addressing a question about forgiveness. His parable of the unforgiving servant demonstrates that servant not listening to the lesson of forgiveness. He had been graciously and abundantly forgiven by the king, yet he refused to do the same for a fellow servant. He did not listen, and greatly suffered for his hardened heart. [Matthew 18:21-35]
On Wednesday, [Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9] we hear that Moses spoke to the people: “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live with the LORD. In Matthew’s Gospel [5:17-19] , Jesus tells his disciples that whoever obeys and teaches the commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. We are called to listen to God’s Law and take it to heart.
In Thursday’s reading from Jeremiah [7:23-28], the LORD speaks to his people: “Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, so that you may prosper.” In the Gospel according to Luke, [11:14-23] Jesus drives out a demon that was mute, and the crowds were amazed, yet others rebuked him. They would not listen with their hearts. The Psalm response is “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
On Friday, we hear from the prophet Hosea [14:2-10]. He speaks to Israel, using covenantal images of marriage to stress God’s love for them… for us. “Hear, O Israel!” God promises: “I will love you freely…I will be like the dew for you… You shall blossom…. Strike root….put forth shoots….bear fruit.” In the Gospel of Mark [12:28-34], Jesus answers a scribe about what the first commandment is: “Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Hear O Israel! Hear, my child! Be aware of His Love. For you.
Listen. Listen with your heart. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Let us open our hearts. We are part of God’s story today. Can we learn from the prophets? From Jesus? This is the season for listening to God’s still small voice. This is the day to walk in his ways. Listen, Jesus is speaking to you.
Love… Open… Listen.