We cannot listen to God since our minds are too noisy.
This verse in the Bible baffles our minds and arrests the attention of our hearts. Why did the Hebrews in Egypt not listen to Moses their leader? What had prevented them to do so? What would be its significance for us today? Can our sufferings, sicknesses and pains prevent us from paying due attention to the Word of God. It is possible that a life of misery can switch off one’s ears to the inner voice of God?
Bible unfolds to us a two-fold factor for the inability of the Israelites to pay attention to the words of Moses. One factor seems to be spiritual (internal) and the other, physical (external) one.
“They did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and their cruel bondage” (Ex 6:9). It is quite obvious that a soul cannot listen to the word of God due to its “broken spirit” and “cruel bondage.” In other words, a “broken spirit” and “cruel bondage” incapacitate a man/woman to heed to God’s word.
How does a man/woman’s spirit become broken? Who crushes/breaks one’s spirit? And how can we mend a broken spirit? It happens to the inner being of a person and so it is invisible. But we can observe the signs and symptoms of a “drooping spirit” in the way he/she performs his/her daily duties in life.
Once Jesus had met a group of people who were “crushed in their spirit,” “distressed” (ripto), broken hearted and “wearied” (Mt 9:36), and “he began to teach them at length” (Mk 6:34). Lengthy teaching might perhaps heal many of the broken spirited people of our time. It is the Lord alone “who heals the broken hearted and he binds up their wounds” (Ps 147:3). To do this, Jesus is empowered through the mighty anointing from above. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted” (Is 61:1; Lk 4:18). Elsewhere, Dr. Luke mentions that, “the power of the Lord was with him to heal” (Lk 5:17). And he lifts up those who are bowed down” (Ps 146:8).
“A dejected mind, a gloomy face and a wounded heart” would be the true manifestation of a “broken spirit” (Sir 25:23). It is quite natural for a soul to wander about in the world, once its goal in life is lost. And so, he/she desires to end up his/her life “in death” (Ps 109:16). It was the longing of Job (17:1), to choose death rather than life. “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a broken spirit who can bear” (Pro 18:14). “A downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Pro 17:22).
We know from our experiences, that by the “sorrow of heart” or “a cruel bondage,” a human “spirit is broken” easily and quickly (Pro 15:13) and is unable to heed to the voice of the Lord. Even now, some sections of our human society, due to their abject poverty and age-old oppression, cannot rise above their bondages in order to plan for an egalitarian society. Even the every suggestion of it sounds to them like an utopian idea or a wishful dream for the far future.
Do you remember how the Lord had liberated a daughter of Abraham from the cruel bondage of Satan for eighteen long, years? “Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Lk 13:16). In fact, He came to “liberate” people from their bondages (Lk 4:18; Jn 8:32).
Before preaching the Good News, should we not liberate our people from various types of bondages? Or should we not liberate them in and through the Gospel message that we preach? This spiritual activity can only be performed by the Spirit of the Lord (Lk 4:18). Let us pray that God will make us humble instruments in His hands for liberating many souls from the bondages of sin and Satan.
– – – written by Fr. J. Eapan SDB