Even hermits encounter other people. Yesterday I watched “Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer,” and aside from the content being fantastic and correct, I noticed something very specific — even the hermits talk to people. Why? Because the people come to them for spiritual advice.
I am nowhere near the point of being a spiritual teacher but I do encounter people almost every day of my life. There is mass, grocery, post office, paying bills; and in all those place and situations I talk to the people around me. The big revelation for you is that people want to be listened to as if they were the most important person on earth. That cannot be stressed enough. People want you to listen to them. How many times have you talked with someone who without words let your know by the stance and eye movements that they would really rather not talk to you because they are either: a) Very busy, much too busy to listen; or b) they really don’t care very much about what you have to say.
How does that feel? It feels like you are dehumanized. Did Jesus do that? I think not. In Luke 2:46 we learn that the twelve-year-old Jesus was found “in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Even though a youth, Jesus listened to the teacher and asked them questions, so is it any less important in our imitation of Jesus that we should listen to people and ask them questions? Pertinent questions about what they are saying, not thinking to yourself “how much longer do you intend to talk to me.” It is possible that God put you near that person so they could speak to you because they needed someone to listen to them.
Do certain people drive you up a tree? They are the most important of all to listen to, not with your own ears, but with the ears of Christ. Recently I failed in that with someone who never seems to listen to what I say and so I’d basically given up trying, but that did not release me from the obligation to listen to them, instead, my irritation with their refusal to hear what I say made me snap back at them, and that was sin. Yes, sin.
When we pray, Jesus listens. Should we do any less than that with other people who are God’s children whether they are believers or not? Too often I hear “most Christians won’t even talk to me.” What a condemnation of our obligation to Christ when we fail to listen to those we consider sinful or wrong or not worthy! No one asks us to approve of what we hear, instead we should hear it and offer what we can that, if we are open to it, the Christ within us wants to tell them.
So the next time someone talks to you and you really don’t want to talk to them, repeat in your mind “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Keep that going the entire time they are speaking to you, then when it is time for you to say something it will be Christ who speaks in you, and not your impatience. That was how I sinned, try to avoid that if you can.