We invite you to start with reading Luke 8:1-15.
Sometimes it drives me to despair. My children just can’t hear me. Especially when it’s about tidying up, washing their hands or going to bed.
Sometimes I will have a conversation with someone but have no recollection of what the other person said. Hearing one another obviously isn’t only about receiving sound waves.
Jesus probably experienced a similar situation when he told the parable of the sower. It is not without irony that Jesus tells a parable about hearing God’s Word and his disciples don’t understand what their Master means (verse 9). Behind this rather frustrating experience for Jesus is a solid drama which constantly recurs in the Bible: people with ears to hear can’t hear (e.g. Isaiah 6:9; Ezekiel 12:2). The underlying reason why they don’t hear is not simply slow-wittedness. There seem to be truths which require more than common sense to be understood. According to the prophets, and to Jesus, there is a more fundamental epistemological problem.
In order to hear, one needs a “noble and good heart”, Jesus says. The seed of the word of God can put down roots and bear fruit especially well in the life of a certain kind of people. So how can we become people who hear, whose life is just like the “good soil”?
First, we need a fundamental renewal, for our heart is deformed like the rocky or thorny soil in the parable. And because of that, something inside of us is disinclined towards God’s voice. A divine intervention is needed which changes our being fundamentally. The truth, Jesus Christ himself, must be in us so that we become capable of hearing (cf John 8:45; II Corinthians 3:18 & 11:10; Ephesians 4:14ff).
Second, in order to remain capable of hearing, we need Godly character. What drives us in our core being? What are our yearnings? What do we love? Are we oriented towards the good, towards Jesus? The renewal of the heart is a gift. We can collaborate on obtaining Godly character. Personally, I practise the spiritual exercises (e.g. worship, prayer, fasting, Bible reading …) as a wonderful way to become whole, ready to receive and hear God’s voice. They are like gardening tools that help us keep our heart’s soil free from distraction and that thus make room for the seed of God.
Lord, give us hearing hearts. Let us be expectant when we open the Bible. Let us be all ears for your word given to us. Lord, give us hearing hearts. Make us people of “noble and good hearts”, ready to receive what you want to say to us through your word. Lord, give us hearing hearts. Enable us to help each other out of our spiritual deafness. Let us become a hearing community.