30 January 2019
All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for him. By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. The Holy Spirit assures us of this; for he says, first:
This is the covenant I will make with them
when those days arrive;
and the Lord then goes on to say:
I will put my laws into their hearts
and write them on their minds.
I will never call their sins to mind,
or their offences.
When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.
Jesus began to teach by the lakeside, but such a huge crowd gathered round him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there. The people were all along the shore, at the water’s edge. He taught them many things in parables, and in the course of his teaching he said to them, ‘Listen! Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground where it found little soil and sprang up straightaway, because there was no depth of earth; and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away. Some seed fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop. And some seeds fell into rich soil and, growing tall and strong, produced crop; and yielded thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!’
When he was alone, the Twelve, together with the others who formed his company, asked what the parables meant. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God is given to you, but to those who are outside everything comes in parables, so that they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again, but not understand; otherwise they might be converted and be forgiven.’
He said to them, ‘Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? What the sower is sowing is the word. Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it than Satan comes and carries away the word that was sown in them. Similarly, those who receive the seed on patches of rock are people who, when first they hear the word, welcome it at once with joy. But they have no root in them, they do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, they fall away at once. Then there are others who receive the seed in thorns. These have heard the word, but the worries of this world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word, and so it produces nothing. And there are those who have received the seed in rich soil: they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’
“Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!”
We are normally able to hear sounds in the 0 dB (the sound of rustling leaves) to 120 dB (a rock concert). To give some perspective, normal speech is around 60 dB, a lawn mower operates at 90 dB, a jet engine reaches 120 dB and a gunshot goes up to 140 dB. Any sound above 85 dB could cause permanent damage to our ears.
I am pretty sure that when Jesus urged those around him to listen, He would have been referring to the words that he was speaking (at around 60 dB). Or was He?
We all get distracted during homilies and even in the adoration chapel, where it is relatively quiet. We allow random thoughts to creep into our mind as we try to focus on what God is speaking to us. Or we let the cry of a child irritate us as we focus on the homily being preached by our priest. Perhaps the question we need to ask ourselves then is how still are our hearts, in order for us to listen effectively to God’s words being spoken to us?
Do we go away to a quiet place to allow ourselves to be ministered to by God’s voice? Or are we in a constant state of ‘busyness’ that we only hear what we want and are not able to discern what He has for us on a daily basis? Many among us are so caught up with what is happening in the world and on social media that unless something is getting headlines or attracting the attention of so-and-so, it is not worth paying any attention to. After all, it is human nature to be attracted to the spectacular and the ‘headline of the moment’; whatever is attracting buzz and getting hundreds of ‘likes’ or hits.
Inevitably, we tune out the stories of those who are truly struggling — the lonely, the downtrodden, society’s misfits who struggle to make sense of how life has treated them? We miss out on the real comeback stories – of how a single mother has finally reconciled with her son and daughter by staunchly believing in her faith; of a fellow brother or sister who has endured years of ridicule from their family, yet found purpose in ministry.
Brothers and sisters, I believe that as Catholics and as members of a larger faith community, we do come across such inspirational stories on a personal basis. Take time to reflect on what Christ is saying to you through the words spoken by the one who is sharing. Open the ears of your hearts to listen and discern God’s message for you.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: We pray for the grace of humility and the gift of wisdom, to listen patiently and to be attentive to your words, O Lord, in the daily sharings and interactions of those around us.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for trusting in us and having the faith that we are listening to you in spite of our busy lives.