One of the more interesting things little kids will do is to put their hands over their ears when they are being told something they do not want to hear. Today’s readings are examples of this type of action. In both readings people are being challenged by words they wish not to hear. They simply cannot believe the difficult prophecy of Jeremiah or the challenging words of Jesus.
It is not always easy to hear those things which challenge us to change our behaviors in our lives. This is most especially true, when we are engaged in something that is selfish or self-serving. When we are reminded of the inconvenient reality that not all have enough to eat, where the people are not always in a position where they are free from violence, and we are somehow responsible, these are words that are not always easy to hear.
Consider the violence that we hear so regularly coming out of places like Iraq and Syria. Christians persecuted simply for believing. Perhaps even more accurate, Christians persecuted simply for existing. The reality of original sin in our world means that we are somehow responsible by the sins which we commit.
The word of God can come to us in a variety of forms. Be sure there is the most important mechanism for giving to us the word of God, namely the Bible. But one thing that is true then we consider the Bible, and the stories which it presents us, is often in relatively ordinary ways that extraordinary things are said to us. Jeremiah was discounted because of his youth. Jesus was discounted because people knew his relatives, and probably remembered that little boy running around Nazareth. It was all simply to ordinary for them to believe that God was challenging them to convert.
What keeps us from converting? What types of things keep us from believing in the word of God, believing in the ways in which God speaks to us, believing in how the presence of God is calling us to be more like God in our actions, attitudes, and beliefs?
Today’s readings challenge us to be ready for God, especially if God shows up in the most unlikely of ways. And so with hearts open to God, his presence in our world and our lives, not only through us with perhaps most especially through others, but as hear the word of God even when it challenges us.