"Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them." Mt 13: 6-7
Whenever we are preoccupied, it is difficult to hear or see clearly. Health care professional, for instance, remind us that whenever possible we should have a friend or a spouse, a second set of ears, accompany us when we visit a doctor to hear about a new health care concern. Somehow when we try too hard to hear, we miss important elements about our condition when we are alone or overly focused.
The same can be true whenever we are threatened, and it is clear that this was happening to many of the Jewish leaders when they listened to Jesus. Rather than listen carefully, think, reflect and respond to the young rabbi Jesus with interest, they rejected him out of hand because his message unnerved them. Instead of asking clarifying questions, they accused him of perverting the Torah and misinterpreting the Prophets. For a while Jesus was patient with them but eventually he made it clear that he would no longer offer his insights about the Law to those who refused to listen deeply.
It is important to remember that all of us can feel threatened and upset when someone challenges our interpretation of the Gospel or commitment to the Church. When this happens, stop, listen and don't feel compelled to answer immediately. If possible, wait a day or even a few days. Then, when we know we must clarify or challenge others, we will do so with grace and kindness.
Today, listen to someone carefully but say nothing.
What practices most help you to listen to others with whom you disagree?