It has been pointed out to me, more than once, that I have two ears and only one mouth. The suggestion being that I should listen twice as much as I talk. I get around this by having 10 fingers, so I can type five times as much as I listen and ten times as much as I talk. I like this plan because I’m not a great “off the cuff” speaker, but I’m a fairly decent writer who can orate my thoughts once they get down on paper. What does any of this have to do with Palm Sunday? I’m glad you asked.
In the Old Testament lesson appointed for Palm Sunday, Year B, we hear these words from the prophet Isaiah. “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens–wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.” Two ears and one mouth.
Those who profess to speak on behalf of God, whether as prophet, preacher, teacher, or simply disciple, are first and foremost those who listen for God. So often we set about the work of talking and forget about the call to listen. God desires a listening heart. He desires to share his will with the world, but in order to do so, we have to listen to his teaching. We do that through prayer and the reading of Scripture.
The Bible is the account of God’s interaction with humanity from the beginning. It is a story about his love for his creation, and about how he hopes to restore the world to his perfect will. In it, we find advice on how to live in the Kingdom by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6.8); by loving God and neighbor (Mt 22.37-39); by serving the least (Mt 25.40); and by repentance (Acts 2.38). Through prayer, the listening kind rather than the talking kind, we learn God’s will for us in the specificity of our lives. We might find him calling us to reach out in ways we had never expected or to talk to those we had never even seen before. Through listening, we grow in understanding, and in time, we may be called to speak a word. That word, spoken through one mouth, must always start with two open ears.