- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 29, 2020

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

3rd Wednesday in Ordinary Time
2 Samuel 7:4-17; Mark 4:1-20

Both of today’s readings are very familiar to us. Some of us might be tempted to
react: “Heard that before!” We can hear lots of things that people say, but not really
listen because our minds are somewhere else. As the saying goes: “Familiarity breeds
contempt.” I would like to add that contempt breeds intellectual boredom. This
intellectual boredom gives rise to indifference and inattention. This brings us to the
exhortation of the Lord in today’s gospel: “Listen to this!” These words echo the opening
phrase of the Jewish profession of faith. Hear this, all you who have ears to hear
because the Word of God is living and life-giving. The implanted Word is bursting with
life. As soon as it finds a resting place, it wants to put forth roots.

In the opening verse of the Prologue to his Rule St. Benedict writes: “Listen
carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your
heart. This is the advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into
practice.” The listening demanded of us is more than allowing sound waves to enter our
ears. The listening St. Benedict and our Jewish brothers and sisters propose challenges
us to allow the words we hear to sink in, to provide understanding and to generate a
response. Listening to God’s Word draws us into a heart-to-heart conversation with the
One in whom we live and move and have our being.

And Jesus said, “Listen up! And pay attention.” We are being invited to let the
implanted word take root in our lives. We have a choice. We can either bring forth a
heavenly harvest by allowing the Word to influence how we look at the world and treat
others, or stifle its growth in us by allowing the culture of death to reign supreme. If we
open ourselves to the Word of God, it can reshape our lives.

When all is said and done, receiving the seed of the Word is about accepting the
love that the Father offered us even while we were unlovable, hateful in ourselves and
hating others. As we allow the Word to take root in us, it puts forth shoots of
gratefulness, humility and self-sacrificing love. The heavenly harvest transforms us from
inside out. There is a connection between listening and obeying. One cannot obey is
one has not listened to the command of the Master. In our daily Lectio, we need to listen
to the Words we read and pay attention to the message that echoes in our hearts. This
excerpt from the rite of ordination of a deacon summarizes it nicely: “Receive the
Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what
you believe, and practice what you teach.”