Jn 6:4 The Jewish feast of Passover was near. .
What is John…what are You, Holy Spirit, trying to tell us in this seemingly offhanded remark? The time of the year? The reason for the large crowds? The first hint of the upcoming miracle of the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus subsequent discourse of the Bread of Life? The oddity of a crowd coming to Jesus when they should be processing up to Jerusalem? Or something entirely different, entirely other…a reminder of Mt Sinai when God spoke to Moses and began to feed the people manna? Is this the melodic line that will return again and again until it reaches its crescendo on Calvary?
There was a conversation the other day about the distracted way men in general and husbands in particular listen to conversations and specifically what their wife says; many men seem to pay only partial attention to what is being said. From the wife’s point of view, we are being inattentive and discourteous, from the husband’s point of view, we are filtering out the extraneous information and focusing. It is fortunate that we love one another and accommodate ourselves to the other, for love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [1 Cor 13:4-7] Otherwise, we couldn’t survive.
In this age of texting, iPods, emails, and twitter, it is more and more difficult to get the attention to each other. Billions are spent on getting our attention to this product, that person, this thought. Have you noticed that much of it asks you questions about yourself, gets you to consider how you look, what insurance you have, whether you eat right, does the car you drive reflect well on you…you, you, you….me, me, me…I am constantly be reminded that others are judging me, watching me, urging me to follow them…and trying desperately to get me to think about me…what’s wrong with this picture???
Jesus presents a different perspective: “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God…. No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” [Lk 9:60-62] Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” [Mt 6: 25, 27, 32-33]
To get back to the off-handed remark. Holy Spirit, help me pay attention, full and undivided attention to what others say to me today. Help me to truly listen, not just with my ears but with my heart. To the off-hand remark, to the subtle aside, to the still small voice [1 Kgs:12] that cries out to be heard.
Charles Finn said it much better than I, way back in 1966…in a poem that struck me to the core: “Please Hear What I’m Not Saying.” I commend to you his poem below and his website, poetrybycharlescfinn.com, where you can read a collection of stories about the poem’s impact around the World.
 Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.