4th Sunday of Easter Year C
Good Shepherd Sunday
April 21, 2013
ARE YOU ON SHUFFLE MODE?
Listening is a lost art in our smartphone-dominated times. Wanna bet? Even the world of journalism is filled with noise, not news … studies and surveys, not truth … statistics and projections, not hard-nosed focus on what matters … reality shows, but not passionate dedication and commitment to face actual reality.
Times there were when we excitedly spoke of “virtual reality.” It is ever present now …in your tablet, on your iPad, (or Haipads, for that matter!). But there is something more now … far more than just “virtual reality” – what is known now as “augmented reality.”
Both the “trendies” and the “traddies” are guilty of it … they both talk of something real with a twist … a little exaggeration here; a small addition there … a gentle innuendo here; a subtle sarcasm there … So what does one have in the end? A truth, but augmented, modified, twisted – if you will – or otherwise turned, not into a blatant lie, mind you, but just simply a half truth (which is almost always worse than a lie!)
Let us focus a bit on what and how we listen … Most of us now, are on shuffle mode. The music is on, but not quite. It is electronically on, but playing in the background. Life itself is on a virtual soundtrack. The music is really there behind, but not first thing on your mind. You only cock your ears, (figuratively, not literally) when one song or musical piece excites you. And then you listen … or reach out for the button to activate “Tune Up” – and know for certain what you are right now listening to – with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul!
On other occasions, one is just on a veritable sound track. One hears, but not listens.
This is what most people do now in Church. One behaves on shuffle mode. One cocks his/her ears only when the priest “sings” his “songmily,” or speaks about something I hate (like the Church’s teaching against abortion, for example), or something I don’t agree with (like the hard-nosed teaching against same-sex marriages, for example), or when he talks about what you already know (like the rehashing of the story line of your favorite telenovela or soap opera).
On shuffle mode, it is hard to listen and really listen to the Word of God … (It’s boring!). On shuffle mode, one simply presses the forward button to skip the hard teachings, or “tune out” and get back to texting or playing games … or simply going away and choosing another Church, another parish, another priest that does not disturb your delicate conscience!
The Jews on hearing Paul and Barnabas were on shuffle mode, too. They did not like what they saw, and neither did they like what they heard. The Gentiles, on the other hand, were smitten, and “glorified the Lord!”
Can you imagine if we all are always on shuffle mode, when it comes to hearing the Word? We won’t be God’s people. Neither shall we be His flock. But wait! This is just what we said: “We are his people, the sheep of his flock!”
There’s this group of people who really listened and suffered for it … “these are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
They heard. They listened. Heroically. Patiently. Not selectively, I might add. And they suffered through it and on account of it.
Shepherds are those who have a message to their flock. And their flocks listen to their shepherd. Truly. Fully. Not selectively. Not on shuffle mode, but consistently.
It pays to listen. For he said: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
I hold on to one important track today and would like to repeat it over and over: “God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes.”
Are you still on shuffle mode?