16 “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.17 For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. 18 Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”
Sometimes they jump, and other times, they don’t. Record-breaking temperatures make my morning reflection on the porch a little more “cozy” than normal, lulling me into a sleepy haze. But despite the sunny autumn warmth, a phrase jumped out of the scriptures at me today, with an elegance in timing for my life that only the Holy Spirit can provide.
“Take care, then, how you hear.”
On autopilot with the gospels, I sometimes see a paragraph and say to myself “Oh, I know, the “one with the lampstand”, belittling God’s Living Word to something that sounds like the title of a “Friends” episode. But taking care to read on, the point of today’s reading for my spirit had nothing to do with seeing or being seen, but with hearing. Intrigued, I began to try to dissect what God was saying about what would be “revealed” that I might hear…negative self talk? Idle gossip? Cultural rhetoric? I know! The doubt and fear of the enemy always being whispered in our ears. But then I read again.
“Take care, then, HOW you hear.” Hmm….not what, but HOW. How I hear? How can I hear things differently than any way other than how I hear them? (Hang in there with me.)
How I hear, usually, is how I WANT to hear. I want to hear things in ways that, perhaps unintentionally, benefit me in some way in the end. Perhaps I hear an insult in a passing comment. How does this benefit me? I get to mull it over and give myself permission to nurse my wounds, making things about me a little longer. Sometimes I hear things that build my case in an argument with someone, like an “AHA! See? That is what I was trying to tell him!”, certifying myself in my own disallusioned sense of righteousness. Maybe I hear in a way that makes me feel better about myself or in a way that, in reality, should call me to take responsibility for a wrong decision or action.
To me, this particular scripture boils down to a warning against root sins; particularly pride, and vanity. How I hear most things usually serves my pride or my vanity. How can I know? This is where our examination of conscience comes into play. Whether it is on my knees before bed, reviewing my day and where I can improve tomorrow, or preparing for the sacrament of confession, I can examine how I hear things. Perhaps this line from Luke has deeper global, historical, scriptural meaning. As always, there is layer upon layer of meaning in each passage of the gospels. But for me, in light of my own vocation statement in the order of “Daughter of the King”, wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc., in this moment, this is how I hear it.