Have you ever had your spouse say to you, “Are you even listening to me?” and find that you have to admit that, no, you’re not? Apparently, that happens to Jesus too.
In last Sunday’s Gospel Jesus was trying to explain to his disciples that he would be arrested, killed and would later rise from the dead. The Gospel writer Mark says, “His disciples did not understand him.” Why didn’t they understand this concept, or at least the first parts of it? After all, how complicated is “I’m going to be arrested and put to death”? I can understand them not grasping the thought of resurrection, but surely they’d understand that Jesus was predicting his own death, wouldn’t they? What were they thinking?
Perhaps the next paragraph offers a clue. When they got to their destination, Jesus asked them what they’d been arguing about on the journey. There was much shuffling of sandals and sheepishness until one of them admitted they’d been arguing about which of them was the greatest. Think about that. The Son of God was trying to explain to them that he would be arrested, humiliated, beaten and killed; and his closest followers were more interested in which of them would have the biggest statue erected in his honor!
Our human nature is to put ourselves first. Our own wants, needs and dreams fill up our world to the point where they crowd out the view of everything else. Even when God is talking to us, it takes an effort to overcome our self-obsession and pay attention to what He wants us to know.
The world is a noisy place. God won’t compete with the noise. He continues to speak to us quietly. He calls us; persistently, yet gently and softly. It takes an effort to quiet down and listen for His voice.
We need to practice listening for that voice. We need to look for Jesus. I know from experience that one of the places I’m most likely to find him is in the faces and voices of people around me. If I slow down. If I get off my own pedestal and start looking after the needs of those people. If I work to be the servant of all.