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Jesus often spoke in what we know as “parables,” stories meant to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. He often emphasized the importance of what he was saying with the dictum: “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” I used to wonder why he didn’t just say something like: “Pay attention, everybody!” or just “Listen!” It’s a little strange to seek out people who have ears, since everyone has them. Sometimes though, if someone is talking to me while I’m doing something else I miss what the speaker is saying. That might necessitate the addition of “to hear” as in “Whoever has ears to hear…” which might then turn my head toward the speaker.

It’s likely that Jesus was signaling a deeper listening, one that would take more reflection because the meaning might be veiled somehow. In that case listeners would need to go beyond the reach of their ordinary minds. Then perhaps it would take the kind of listening that Jesus required for those who were following a different way of being/living. If it was a really important point that he wanted his followers to understand, leaving the other people gathered in the dark until they “saw the light,” his disciples would then perk up and open the ears of their hearts.

When do you listen with the ears of your heart? How is that different for you? Might you hear God any better in the silence?