Here is today’s Gospel reading, from Matthew: ‘Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear”’.

The final words of this Gospel reading are picked up in the very first words of the Rule of our Holy Father St Benedict: ‘Listen, my son …’ There is a kind of listening in which sounds and words fall upon the ear and disappear almost immediately. This is not what is meant here! There is a deep listening of the heart, an inner receptivity, a readiness to be changed by what is heard and perceived in the words.

May this kind of listening become a habit of mind and heart, and may God bless you richly in it.