At the beginning of Advent this year one of my ears was severely blocked for several weeks. It affected my work, my music, my relationship with others, and my overall comfort and happiness.
When my ear recently ‘opened up’ again towards the end of Advent after a lengthy treatment, I could hear the world beautifully ringing with clarity and resonance around me, even better than before. It was a real relief and joy. I came to realise that the condition was most likely gradually building up for a very, very long time and I had not paid much attention to it. In fact, I had ignored it. As long as I could hear well enough it was good enough, but now my aural health is an important priority.
I also noticed and appreciated a few other things about life during those weeks. One, that I have a deeper understanding and compassion for people with a permanent hearing impediment or deafness, and two, that I was able to focus inwards in a way that I never really have before. I came to a better understanding of the words of my prayers and was able to focus on the spoken vibrations of those words resonating within me.
As I was praying one day not long after regaining my hearing in that ear, a strong thought occurred to me about what I had just gone through – that it is important to also listen with the ears of the heart. Our hearts need to be open and attentive to God otherwise they can become blocked and hardened with fear, anxiety, and darkness over a long period of time.
Today we are on the eve of a magnificent event. A miracle of love. The birth of our Saviour. What better way to unblock the deafness of our hearts than by being attentive to His cry – the cry of a tiny baby. But not just any baby – the King of kings and Lord of lords.
We all know how piercing and attention-grabbing a baby’s cry can be. It is the cry of the child wanting nourishment, attention, love, or some other need. No one can ignore that cry, especially the mother and father.
The cry of the Christ-child is imminent.
Are our hearts open enough to let His newborn cry move us to peace, love, forgiveness, and new beginnings?
Will we pick Him up, accept Him, and put Him in the sacred cradle of our hearts to live?
His will be the cry of the poor, the homeless, and the lonely at Christmas – those who do not have a family to share a special meal with, or to open gifts.
His will be the cry of the dying, the sick, the elderly, and the suffering who are often forgotten.
His will be the cry of the victims of war and discord.
His will be the cry of the baby who will grow into manhood, heal the sick, touch the leper, forgive the sinner, and then cry out again in suffering thirty-three years later on the cross.
This Christmas, let us pray to hear the cry of Jesus by unblocking the ears of our heart. We can do this by small acts of kindness towards each other, by finding ways to nourish our faith life, and by fostering an active relationship with Christ. Some practical ways we can do this are:
- Spend time in front of an image of Jesus as a baby at Christmas or as an adult at other times – be still, just gaze in peace, and see what happens.
- Check in on your neighbours who may be frail or lonely this Christmas and throughout the year.
- Establish a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and ask Him to change your heart.
- Talk to a homeless person or at the very least, look them in the eye and smile.
- Spend time in adoration of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
- Be reconciled with someone you may not have been able to forgive or by whom you have been hurt.
Open your heart to Jesus this Christmas. Wash away the obstacles of darkness and listen to His cry. You can hear and live again. It is never too late to begin.
Image of baby Jesus courtesy of turnbacktogod.com