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A Call to Spiritual Attentiveness

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus often concluded His teachings with the profound statement, “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt 11:15). This seemingly simple phrase carries deep spiritual significance, inviting us to reflect on our openness to God’s word and our willingness to truly listen with our hearts.

When Jesus spoke these words, He was not merely referring to physical hearing. Rather, He was calling His listeners to a deeper level of spiritual attentiveness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “faith comes from hearing” (CCC 1102), emphasizing the importance of actively engaging with God’s word. This spiritual hearing involves not just our ears, but our entire being – our minds, hearts, and souls.

The Parable of the Sower

One of the most illustrative examples of this concept is found in the Parable of the Sower (Mt 13:1-23). In this parable, Jesus describes different types of soil representing various dispositions of the human heart. Some hearts, like the path, are hardened and unreceptive. Others, like rocky ground, initially receive the word with joy but lack depth. Still others, like thorny soil, allow worldly concerns to choke out the message. Finally, there is the good soil, representing those who hear the word, understand it, and bear fruit.

This parable beautifully illustrates that while God’s word is freely given to all, our response to it determines its fruitfulness in our lives. As Pope Francis noted in a 2014 Angelus address, “The seed of the Word of God sometimes falls on barren soil, sometimes on ground full of weeds, but sometimes it falls on good soil that welcomes it and produces fruit.”

The Role of the Holy Spirit

It’s important to recognize that our ability to truly hear and understand God’s word is not solely a human effort. The Holy Spirit plays a crucial role in this process. As Jesus promised His disciples, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14:26).

The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts, helping us to grasp the deeper meanings of Scripture and apply them to our lives. This divine assistance is a gift that we must actively cooperate with through prayer, study, and reflection on God’s word.

A Call to Action

When Jesus says, “Whoever has ears ought to hear,” He is issuing a call to action. It’s not enough to simply hear the words; we must allow them to transform us. As St. James reminds us, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves” (Jm 1:22).

This transformation involves:

1. Openness: Approaching God’s word with humility and a willingness to be changed.
2. Attentiveness: Giving our full attention to Scripture, both in personal study and during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.
3. Reflection: Taking time to ponder God’s word and its implications for our lives.
4. Application: Putting into practice what we have heard and understood.


In our modern world, filled with constant noise and distractions, Jesus’ call to “hear” is more relevant than ever. We are challenged to cultivate interior silence and receptivity to God’s voice. This involves creating space in our lives for prayer, Scripture reading, and spiritual reflection.

Moreover, we are called to be attentive not only to the written word of Scripture but also to the ways God speaks to us through the teachings of the Church, the witness of our fellow believers, and the events of our daily lives. As the Second Vatican Council taught, “God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church – and through her in the world – leads believers to the full truth” (Dei Verbum, 8).

Let us pray for the grace to have ears that truly hear, hearts that are receptive to God’s word, and lives that bear abundant fruit for the Kingdom. May we, like Mary, the model of perfect discipleship, learn to ponder God’s word in our hearts (Lk 2:19) and respond with wholehearted faith and obedience.

As we strive to be attentive listeners and doers of God’s word, may we echo the words of the young Samuel: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:9). In doing so, we open ourselves to the transformative power of God’s love and become living witnesses to the Gospel in our world today.

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