Summary: Stop, Look, Listen...Listening is an important key to developing our spiritual lives.(Second Sunday of Lent - C)
Seeds for Sowing, Vol. V, Issue 2, No. 16
Second Sunday in Lent - Year C
March 11, 2001
* Gen. 15:5-12, 17-18
* Phil. 3:17 - 4:1
* Lk. 9:28 - 36
Transformation Through Listening
Stop, Look, Listen
When we come to a railroad crossing that doesn’t have any signals or flashing lights, there are three things that we should do--stop, look and listen. Our life may, at times, depend on following these three little rules. These directions could also be very useful in our own personal relationships, and in our relationship with Christ.
What are the human conditions that need to be present for one person to carefully listen to another person? We first of all have to stop. If we try to carry on a conversation while we are doing something else, then chances are we will not be sharing anything very personal. If you have something important to say to your friend or spouse, you don’t want to compete for their attention with the television or the dirty dishes. You both need to stop whatever you are doing so that you can give each other your full attention. You then need to look at one another. The simple act of facing another person--looking at that person’s face--is a strong sign that you wish to make contact with that person.
Finally after you have stopped and faced each other, it is time to listen carefully to the other person. Listening is as important as talking, and in many cases is more important. Through listening you are able to come to a deeper knowledge of the other. And when you actively listen, you allow the other’s words to have some effect on you. Taking their words seriously means that you may have to re-think some behaviour or attitude of yours; or it may mean that you have to change your idea of who this other person really is. Communication has a powerful role in any relationship. It can transform a relationship from one of boredom and hostility into one of love and commitment.
Listening to Jesus
And so, all of these things apply also to our relationship with Christ. If we think that we have a close relationship with Jesus, but never stop to look at him and listen to him, we only have a fantasy relationship with him--one that we have made up in our heads, but which has no foundation in reality. It’s amazing how many of us think we have a great relationship with Jesus, but never actually spend any time cultivating that relationship.
Lent is a season in which we are asked to gently put on the brakes. It should be a time to slow down our pace so that we can become more aware of our relationship with Christ. In today’s Gospel, we hear the Father telling the apostles, "This is my Son, the Chosen one. Listen to him". We shouldn’t take these words lightly. In fact, our life as Christians depends upon them. Our own personal transformation can come through listening closely to Jesus.
Creating Listening Space
Our first task this Lent is to stop. No, we don’t have to stop working, or cooking, or going to school. But we do have to stop trying to fill every available moment with something, whether that something is television, or chatter, or spending hours surfing the internet for nothing in particular. It’s true that we can’t create any more hours or minutes in the day. So we have to learn to re-arrange our lives, so that, at least during this season, we will have a little more time to spend in prayer.
A writer by the name of Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. "Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, ’Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.’ "Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, ’Honey, you can tell me -- and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.’ " "I’ll never forget her answer: ’Then listen slowly.’ "
It is true that we can pray at any time and anywhere, but it is also true that at times we have to ’listen slowly’. Once we stop, then we have to look at Christ. We can do this with our actual physical eyes by using a favourite picture of Christ that we may have, or we can look at Christ using the eyes of our imagination. Simply close your eyes and picture Jesus there before you. Or just recall the fact that he is always present to you. Looking at Jesus can mean placing ourselves in his presence. Now we are ready to listen to him.