A woman walks in to a lawyer's office seeking to divorce her husband. The lawyer asks if she has grounds. She says, "Oh, yes. We have a nice front yard and a beautifully landscaped back yard, too." The lawyer said, "'No, no, that's not what I meant. Do you have a grudge?" She answered, "Oh yes, a big one. Two cars fit in it easily." The lawyer is starting to get frustrated and says: "Does your husband beat you up?" She replied, "He sure does. He gets up before I do every morning and fixes breakfast." He was getting frustrated so he asked again, "Why in the world do you want to divorce him?'" She says, "I think we have a major communication problem."
Essential to communication and any human relationship is listening. Listening can be difficult. Most of the pain and problems in the world is caused by people who do not listen. A man told his wife one day that according to a study "Men use about 15,000 words per day, but women use 30,000". The wife thought for a while, then she said to her husband "It's because we have to repeat everything we say." And he says, "What?"
After the movie, the "Passion of Christ," was shown three years ago, a question was raised which had been raised before: "Who Killed Jesus?" For me, that was not the right question. The question rather that needs to be answered, and dealt with by us all, is this: "Why did Jesus die?"
Jesus died because the people during His time did not listen to Him. Jesus died because we ourselves do not listen to Him. Jesus died because some of us cannot still accept Him and His message of change and conversion.
It is more difficult to listen to God because we have so many things to say to Him. When we last prayed, were we listening or were we just saying the prayers we know? When we last prayed, did we talk to God or did we allow God to talk to us? St. Peter figured this out in today's Gospel once he realized that building three tents on that mountain, as he unknowingly suggested, is not necessary. What is needed is just listening to Jesus: the words coming from His mouth, the silence coming from His heart.
Listen to what God is saying to us in our hearts, in our homes and in our communities. He said two basic things: Love one another as I have loved you. That means not only caring for each other, but also forgiving one another. The second is, Love God as you love yourself. That means not only believing in a God we cannot see, but also willing to surrender to a God who gave us the freedom to be.
Whenever we do not listen to God, there is bound to be conflict and division. Whenever we do not listen to God, there is dissension and separation. Whenever we do not listen to God, we suffer in pain and sadness.
We do not listen to God when we set aside his commandments of love and forgiveness. We do not listen to God when we disregard and disrespect his sharing of life and friendship. We do not listen to God when we ignore and brush off his constant invitation for us to be better and closer to Him.
Listen to what our good Lord is telling us. Listen to Him calling us to reconciliation this season of Lent since it had been years since we last went to confession. Listen to Him challenging us to be more patient with our loved ones, to be more tolerant of their mistakes and to be more forgiving of their weaknesses. Listen to God telling us to be more sharing in the graces we received and to be more cooperative and proactive in the way we could influence our families, our community and our society.
It is a sad commentary in our times that our sense of morality is somehow influenced by what society lays down. It is unfortunate that our dignity as human persons has been corrupted by our understanding of our freedom as human beings.
There is no such thing as absolute freedom. Freedom has its own limitations. If there were not, the exercise of one's right will no longer be an exercise of duty. If there were not, the privileges we all have as free citizens will need no demonstration of responsibility.
Our desire to do whatever we want ends where ethical laws of modesty and decency begins. Our intent to listen to whatever our desires dictate ends where higher laws of morality begin. Never does it mean that legality is equated with morality. Not all legal things, not all legal regulations, not all legislations can be morally right.
Abortion may be legal, but it is not right. Same sex marriages may be legal, but it is not right. Anything legal may not be every person's right. When everybody in society does not listen to God and do whatever they feel like doing, there is always a downside: addictions to various substances go up, families begin to fall apart among other things, and we will never be at peace.
There is a higher authority above us. An authority who told us what we need to hear, a voice heard coming from God the Father. This was the only recorded time and moment in the Bible that he spoke. He could have told us to love one another. He could have told us that we have to be united despite our own differences. He could have told us that He is waiting for us in the next life.
But, of all the things He could have said, he mentioned that which is most important to him: "This is my chosen Son, listen to Him."
4 March 2007