Mark 4:23

Let all who have ears to hear with hear.


yes I’ve heard before
those with ears are to listen
there have been blessings
admonitions and curses

I’ve heard them all
in the midst of silence
on the edge of cacophony
claiming priority

every do and don’t
carries its limit
unnoticed at first
undeniable in the end

hearing still needs listening
to cancel noise of praise
and siren of pain
to prune a growing edge


“Ears” are more than physical structures with external form and internal dynamics. Were it that straight-forward there would be no distinction between hearing and listening that would reveal a difference in attention.

This ancient notice given by a teacher works to both wrap up a section and to transition to a variant. It is both conclusion and announcement. Both are connected with “good news” as it has been experienced and expressed by Jesus, those learning from him, and readers of Mark everywhere.

This line has come through before, it is good practice that every repetition be noted and compared, even when there is some distance between them. Repetition teaches important points and marks transitions. Repetition suggests it will reappear either directly or in some other guise and prepares us to recognize it when it next appears (or to be caught more quickly after we have passed by and drawn back to deepen our attention).

As Mark began there was an opportunity to catch repetition with a remembrance of the prophets calling out “Construct”. There was also opportunity to wonder at someone hearing a voice claiming them to be a beloved partner of G*D and extending that wonder in relationship beyond what was already heard and recognized.

A bit later, those called to by Jesus to come and follow had to decide about attending to a possibility that they might partner with a “sweet, tho’ far-off hymn that hails a new creation” (How Can I Keep from Singing, words by Anonymous, tune by Robert Lowry).

In the midst of the wilderness that is Empire, the apostles’ ears attended to a quiet call. In the midst of the wilderness that is our Empire-dominated setting, we will be alerted by our ears that our body needs to step outside the lines that colors might be set free to interact and spark new ways of living together (within or beyond Empire).

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