When People Stop Listening

Deacon's Corner


My morning routine is usually about the same. I awake around 5:15, stumble down the hall to plug in the coffee, stumble back to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. Then with a fresh cup of coffee I set down and pray Morning Prayer. It has become a habit that soothes my soul and helps set the tone for the day. A few days ago, the gospel reading was from Mark. We have heard it many times. Jesus returns to Nazareth, his hometown, with his disciples and on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue and those who heard him were astounded by his wisdom and what he said and all the works he performed. But instead of being impressed and wanting to hear more of his teachings, they discount everything because they knew him. He was a local kid whose family they all knew. He was a craftsman who had lived and worked around them for 30 years. Now he comes as a rabbi with disciples proclaiming the Kingdom of God. It was too much for them and we are told they “took offence at him”, and “he could do no deed of power there”. Even though he was teaching with great power and wisdom they could not get past their bias. They hated him because he was not who or what they expected him to be. We are told he was amazed at their unbelief and left because the atmosphere was not conducive to healing or teaching.


It is difficult to deal with people who because of some bias or belief or plain stubbornness are not willing to listen, or even discuss an issue. I see this all the time in the mediations that I conduct. The New Testament scholar William Barclay puts it this way:


There can be no peace-making in the wrong atmosphere. If those gathered have come together to hate, they will hate. If they have come together to refuse to understand, they will misunderstand. If they have come together to see no other point of view but their own, they will see no other. But if they have come together, loving Christ, and seeking to love each other, even those who are most widely separated can come together in him.


In a world that suffers from all types of afflictions and hurts, where reconciliation and peace- making is so needed, I offer this prayer For the Human Family from the Book of Common Prayer.

Oh God, you make us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which inflect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Deacon John

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