October 18, 2020 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
World Mission Sunday and Sunday for Cultures
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101820.cfm)
Two priests were walking in a downtown area. Suddenly, one suddenly stop and said, “Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket.” The other listened, but heard nothing. Turning to his priest friend, he asked, “How in the world can you hear the sound of a cricket amidst all these traffic noise and people?” His priest-friend didn’t explain. He simply took coins out of his pocket and dropped them on the sidewalk, whereupon a dozen people began to stop and look on them. Then he said, ‘Now do you understand? People hear the dropping sounds of coins but they are not able to hear the lovely sound of the cricket. We only hear what we listen & we listen only for what we want to hear.”
Surely this piece of wisdom is real and true in our life. Human as we are, we do have some problems with our hearing. We only hear and listen to what we want and use and to hear. Thus, we listen to things not as they are, but as We are – from our own biased perspectives and preferences. That is why this is called selective hearing for this made us unable to hear other voices, sounds, words, messages and news. And we all know the side-effects of selective hearing are miscommunication & misunderstanding. We all know how relationships among spouses, families, friends, and communities were unfortunately stained and worse, broken due to miscommunication, misunderstanding and selective hearing.
Our readings today are about misunderstanding, miscommunication, and selective hearing. Yahweh in our first reading keeps on insisting to the people that “I am the Lord, there is no other”. God wants them to listen and realize that He is the Lord, and He did and is doing a lot of good things for them – even to the point of choosing, anointing and commissioning Cyrus, a pagan Persian king to save them. But still, “they know me not”, they did not recognize and acknowledge Him and the good things He had done to them and for them.
Jesus in our gospel today is also in the same situation. He has already preached to the people that He is the Messiah, and He has done great things to witness the Good News from God. But still, there are people who cannot hear Him, and worse even refuse to hear Him, because they only want to hear and listen to what they are used to and wanted to hear. Jesus here is asking them, “Can you not see me? Can you not hear me? It is I, the Lord.” But they did not. “Hindi nila na-GETS?” Worse, they want to deal with Jesus in their own terms. They want only to listen to Jesus’ opinion about their favourite topics: Taxes, Money, Coins, Politics.
Our gospel today is more than just about Jesus’ opinion about our taxes, tax-paying or our obligations to pay tax or politics. Jesus is directing us that above anything else, above our human concerns, we should not forget to recognize and listen to the Lord our God. We are supposed to give our glory and praise that is due to Him, more than what is due to ourselves and others. This is righteousness – our right relation with God, that entails a lot of communication & understanding – of hearing from Him and listening to Him. How can we glorify and worship Him, if we don’t recognize Him, if we are not listening to Him, if we are not communicating with & believing in Him, if we don’t Get what he is doing to us now and always?”
Be reminded that Jesus is in our world now with us because, over and above our earthly affairs and concerns, he is on-mission to offer us a way to our salvation – a way to save our day & life-ahead towards God our Father. And all of these will come to its fulfillment through His spirit & grace, along with our consent and participation with the mission of Jesus. We should understand that even until now, during pandemic times, God has done, is doing & will continue to do His part for our salvation. But the question is: Do you hear Him? Do you recognize Him? Do you listen & understand Him who is calling, choosing, anointing and sending us (you & I) His followers also on-mission to share His message and ways to our world today? Are we responding to Him or just we just hear ourselves & listen to our worldly concerns? So, Gets mo? paminaw ba… Listen please.
Remember, “the Word made flesh, and dwelt amongst us”. He comes as a word, a message from God who needs a lot of communication with us. Then He became flesh, like us, who needs our acknowledgement, recognition and above all our faith. And He visits us in our home and hearts, and asks for our hospitality and fellowship, and our faith & commitment to follow Him as well.
Perhaps, we may ask ourselves: Am I infected with selective hearing? Do I only want to listen to what I am used and want to hear? Am I open to listen to other’s voices, sounds, words, messages and news? And most of all, do I listen, recognize and welcome Jesus, “Word of God becoming flesh” – in my life now and always?
Remember what God said during the Baptism of Jesus: “This is my Beloved Son, Listen to Him.” As we celebrate today World Mission Sunday during these pandemic times, may we hear & understand again His invitation to us, once more claim anew our Christian vocation, commitment and mission in this life now, and hopefully contribute our specific role and part in God’s saving actions. So may it be. Amen.
By Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay, CSsR