2019 – Cycle C
Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7: 9, 14-17; John 10: 27-30
Parents when you listen to your children, beside what your child says,
do you not listen to them with your heart?
Does not a gifted priest – confessor listen beyond the words of a penitent with his heart?
Should not a listening heart be the manner of a physician – healer?
The heart perceives things at a more profound level, does it not? Isn’t that how Jesus listens to us? Consider those wonderful images in our tradition of the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy.
Wasn’t Jesus listening with his heart as he spoke with the woman of Samaria at the well? What about Jesus’ heartfelt listening to Peter when he asked whether Peter loved him? This is how Jesus listens to us…with his heart. Like an understanding parent, confessor or physician, Jesus hears more than our words. Jesus listens and understands us beyond our words.
In like manner, when we pray, do we listen to God with our heart? Prayer is a conversation. And part of conversing with someone is listening to them. Heartfelt listening involves giving the other person, God, our absolute and full attention.
Heartfelt listening is difficult in our times. We have been well – trained causing us to be so easily distracted.
Our attention spans have become shorter and shorter. Many Broadway plays today are 90 minutes with no intermission. Symphonies have been reigned in to a half hour or less. A standard text message is limited to 160 characters including the spaces. CBS This Morning begins each day’s report with “Your world in 90 seconds”.
We are accosted almost every waking moment by sound; and louder and louder sounds and messages compete for our attention. Until the industrial revolution, the sleep of city dwellers was mostly disturbed by the early calls of roosters from nearby farms.
Into this noisy, brash, and loud world of ours, consider how counter intuitive our God is when speaking to us.
According to the story of the prophet Elijah, God does not speak to us through strong violent winds that crush mountains and rocks; nor through the power of earthquakes or the roaring of fire. God speaks to us with “a still small voice”. [See 1 Kings 19:11ff] If God speaks and comes to us, in stillness, then silence and solitude need to be the marks a listening heart. There is no place on earth where God is more present than in the human heart. And no one encounters God without withdrawing into solitude and silence. Mary ponders in her heart. Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist all go into the desert. The true desert is within us. Psalm 46 teaches us the most profound form of listening: “Be still and know that I am God!
Consider all the opportunities for listening with the heart throughout the liturgy.
- When the chimes call us to “put aside all earthy cares” and be mindful of what we are about to do.
- The silence following each invitation of, “Let us pray.”
- The period of silence after each of the readings, the homily and the reception of Holy Communion.
The Sacred Liturgy is a counter – cultural school to retrain us so that we might clearly hear the voice of the Shepherd. To hear Jesus we must choose to listen.
What is Jesus speaking to your heart today?
The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Ignatius Press, 2016.