Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
(Click here for readings)
(Click here for readings)
By SOPHIE DRUFFNER
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
“…With my ears, may I hear, with my eyes, may I see, with my lips may I speak…” This is the school prayer that I say every day at my Catholic high school. I heard it for the first time as an eighth grader when I took Geometry at the high school, and I remember my first thought was “Of course you hear with your ears and you see with your eyes. Unless, of course, you happen to be deaf, blind, or mute. What a strange prayer.” I only recently understood the true meaning of it. In the prayer, and in the Gospel reading today, Jesus isn’t saying that we should be hearing with our ears. He’s telling us that we should be listening. And as an older sister who frequently has to listen to her younger sisters talk, there’s definitely a difference.
Whoever has ears ought to hear. Many people don’t listen. They only hear and respond. Listening is an attentive posture, slowing down one’s thoughts to the other person’s words, not trying to compare yourself with them as they speak, not thinking of the long list of things that you have to do. Listening is being fully involved with the other person’s words, emotions, and feelings, not your own. It’s definitely hard not to think of a related story while you’re listening to the other person’s story, but that time is better spent focusing on the other person. Everyone wants to be listened to, and the most popular people are the ones who make others feel important by truly listening to them, by keeping silent even when words are bubbling to the surface about their own related story, to let the other person finish. Just as when people drive and hate to be cut off, people who are speaking hate to be cut off too.
Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that He is listening to us, and we should be listening to Him. We can listen to him by keeping completely silent, with our eyes focused on Him, who is present in the Monstrance at Eucharistic Adoration.
The chapel can be one of the most peaceful places on Earth. I have encountered this peace more and more often as I grow and am able to appreciate it more, but one of the times I felt it most was in a cathedral in Germany. As one of a hundred-person orchestral tour group, I hadn’t been able to go to mass the Sunday prior week because of the trip’s time schedule, and once again it was Sunday, and the manager told me again that because of our schedule, I wouldn’t be able to attend.
I definitely felt that I was missing someone. I hadn’t received Jesus for two weeks, I hadn’t been able to give the Sign of Peace to a complete stranger, and although I had been able to pray for a few moments over the tour and begged my group guide to allow me to tour a few churches, the peace in my life was disrupted.
It was Sunday afternoon and Mass had long ended, but once inside the cathedral, my manager told me that there was a chapel down a small staircase, just inside the two stained glass doors. The light from behind the doors lit up the glass; it looked as if I were entering a rainbow. I opened the doors carefully, told the manager that I would meet him upstairs in ten or so minutes, and knelt down among the wooden chairs. And I felt peaceful once more. I said a decade of the rosary and then opened a German prayer book. Although I could not understand the language, I knew it was the Bible. And I knew that the peace the Eucharist gave, is a peace that is universal, is catholic.
In today’s Gospel, God tells us to listen. What better way to listen than in complete silence, with one’s thoughts completely focused on the One who created us all in Eucharistic Adoration? Whenever you drive by your church, just stop by the chapel and say a prayer of thanks, of help, of appreciation or anything at all to your Father, who is just waiting for your call.