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Do We Listen To Jesus Or Ourselves

Sunday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time (A)

My dear encountered couples:

If your brother should commit some wrong against you, go and point out his fault, but keep it between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. If he does not listen, however, summon another, so that every case may stand on the word of two or three witnesses.”

Jesus gives advice on how to mend fences between ourselves and others, as also between members of the Church and Church teachings. But what catches my attention today is Jesus saying, “If your brother listens to you...if he does not listen..

Have you ever noticed that people will listen when certain people speak but will not listen to others? Have you ever noticed yourself doing that? Certain people catch your attention and you listen with ears and mind fully open. You hang on to their every word, you find yourself easily believing what they have to say, while other people you ignore and discredit whatever it is they say. You listen to some people, I mean in the sense of believing what they say; you won’t listen to others, in the sense of not believing a word out of their mouths.

Maybe you remember the commercial that used to air on radio and TV that stated, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Does that mean when any other investment company talks you are wasting your time listening? That’s what E. F. Hutton would like to have had you believe.

Why do we listen to some as if they know what they’re talking about while we close our ears to others? Could it be because we listen to what down deep we really already want to hear, while we ignore what down deep inside us we are already firmly opposed to? That’s like the parents who refuse to believe the teacher who tells them their daughter is a disciplinary problem. They don’t want to believe it and, therefore, they consider the teacher doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

There was an incident one time at a high school picnic (a high school far from here) when one of the school’s favorite athletes brought several cases of beer to the picnic in the trunk of his car. He was caught up on a hill in the woods selling the beer to others and suspended from the basketball team for a year. His parents never would accept the fact that their son would do such a thing. They took him out of the school and registered him in another school where the coach there was more than eager to get the boy on his team. The parents preferred to live in the land of make-believe. They didn’t want to listen to anything not nice (derogatory) about their son.

I think this also happens in the realm of religion. Many people believe what they want to believe, not what God nor his Church teaches. Instead of their faith being God-centered, Christ-centered, it becomes self-entered, man-centered, woman-centered, human being-centered.

That is one reason there are so many different Christian churches or denominations. People have established churches to suit their own desires, to match up to what they want to hear, which teach what they want to believe.

That leads to discarding some things taught by Christ while adding others. It leads people to listening to some Christian leaders while ignoring others.

Why do some choose to listen to Rick Warren while others direct their attention to Joel Osteen, and still others perk up their ears to hear Billy Graham? Why do some people sit with baited breath for every word that falls from the lips of Mike Velarde while others ignore him completely? Why do some Catholics do what the pope says while others don’t even want to know what he says? Why did many Catholics stay with the Roman Catholic Church when changes were called for by the Second Vatican Council while others folded up their tents and left? Why do we have Catholics who welcome the changes while others condemn them and refuse to have anything to do with them? Why are there Catholics who follow the pope while others follow their favorite priest or bishop? What is the answer?

Could it be that in some cases, maybe even in many that we listen to those who say what we want to hear while we close our ears to all others?

All I ask is that you think about that? Do you, do I listen only to want we want to hear, see only what we want to see, and believe only what we want to believe? It is important that we figure that out. I certainly would not want a doctor who has already made up his mind about my health before he has heard my story, before he has examined me. I certainly would not want for my best friend someone who does not listen to the things I say today because he figures he’s already heard me say it all yesterday. Do we give everyone a favorable hearing and do our best to judge what they have to say without having already made up our minds, without prejudice? Do we listen to Jesus Christ - or to ourselves?

I think we can spend a lifetime trying to figure that out and still not be sure. But: It is important that we are aware the danger can exist within all of us - the danger to hear only what we want to hear, to see only what we want to see, to believe only what we want to believe. That sort of thing is not found in any angel or human being in heaven. But I imagine it is part of each and every inhabitant of hell.

Minds closed to other people are minds closed to God. Closed minds indicate closed hearts; closed hearts shut out love. We all must ask ourselves the question, “Am I sincerely interested in getting at truth?” And then answer that question honestly. Only those who are interested in the truth, in the whole truth, and in nothing but the truth are those who are interested in God.

I hope you have heard what I have said. And I hope you give it serious, sincere thought. Your eternal whereabouts might depend on it.

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