“Everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath… Put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the world that has been planted in you… Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” James 2:19-23
Growing up, my mom used to scold me saying, “I know you hear me, but are you listening?” Confident in my knowledge that there is not a difference in those two words, I would tell her, “Yes Mother, loud and clear!” and then ask myself ten minutes later, “Wait what did she say?” I feel like this same situation can be applied to my relationship with God. Yes, I read His Word in the Gospels and at Mass, and yes, I absolutely trust His Word. But am I listening to all of what is being said to the point where I apply it, or am I only hearing what I want to hear? I go so far to ask my Bible life questions and then allow it to fall open to a certain page and search for the answer as if it’s a Magic 8 Ball. “Bible, will I ever get a puppy?” I asked. Bible replied, “Stretch out your hand to make frogs overrun the land of Egypt.” So I’ll take that as a no.
We know what the Bible says, we understand right from wrong, and we hear the readings at Mass, but are we actually listening? James tells us to be “quick to hear,” meaning to soak up what the Lord is telling us, from the simplicity of “I have called you by name” (Is. 43) to the controversy of “Wives be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord” (Eph. 5). James tells us to be “doers” of the Word, not just “hearers.” If all we do is hear the Word, action will not follow. Much like when I heard my mom telling me to do something, but I never did it because it went in one ear and out of the other.
Instead, if we listen to the Word - and I mean listen to the point of note taking (you will get funny looks at Mass for having a note book but it’s your salvation, not that of the lookers) – we become doers. If we listen to the Word, it will become part of us, so imbedded in our nature that we cannot help but act upon, so inflamed in our hearts that we cannot help but set the world on fire, so moving in our souls that we cannot help but move someone else.