Mystic Mantra: Lend me your ears

Indic religions like Hinduism express encounters with the divine through the act of seeing.

An old woman would sit motionless for hours in a church. Curious about her prayer-life, a priest inquired: “What do you say to God?” She replied, “Nothing! I simply listen.” He continued, “And, does God speak to you?” The woman replied, “No! God also listens.” Our prayer is often begging God for favours and praising God after receiving them. But, do we lend an attentive ear to God, to others and to cosmic choirs?

In the Bible, the ear is synonymous with the heart and mind as an organ of cognition. True hearing involves listening and understanding. The ear is personified as hearing, understanding, seeking knowledge and testing words. To “incline one’s ears” means being favourably disposed to God’s words, while having “deaf, heavy, uncircumcised ears” implies rejecting what’s heard.

Indic religions like Hinduism express encounters with the divine through the act of seeing. For instance, “darshan” involves the eye and insight — a faith vision of deeper dimensions of reality. By contrast, the prophetic religions basically seek revelation through the ear and hearing. Samuel’s prayer: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” is a faith-filled plea of receptivity to God’s word.

The Bible personifies God as having ears. Prayers and petitions begin with a request to God to “incline your ear”. Indeed, God hears his people groaning in bondage, facing their foes in battle, crying out in barrenness and complaining when unjustly treated. Moreover, God hears the prayers of the righteous, the poor and the needy and responds favourably to their pleas.

“Let anyone with ears listen!” says Jesus, as he proclaims God’s word through his preaching and his practice of virtues of love, peace, service, sacrifice and justice. Hearing his words and putting them into practice signifies openness and faithfulness to God.

Our world explodes with deafening voices and noises.

Why not switch off all electronic devices, say, at daybreak, to listen to melodies of Mother Earth: the song of birds, the buzz of bees and the pitter-patter of raindrops? Moreover, in our daily dealings with others, couldn’t we more keenly incline our ears to what people say, and also strive to understand the sound of their silences?

In Jesus, “God’s word becomes flesh and lives among us.” When Angel Gabriel announces his miraculous birth, his foster-father, Joseph, silently surrenders and Mary, his mother — Miriam, in the Quran — whispers: “I am God’s servant; be it done to me according to God’s word.” Emulating them, our prayerful listening and obeying God’s word will enable us to evaluate alternatives, make right choices and experience deep joy.

Friends, aliens, countrymen, lend God your ears! God listens to the longings of your heart. And, God will act; when you least expect it.

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