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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fr. Warren's Week Reflection: Listen

Franciscan Friars
(Matthew 5:17-37)

There is so much in this gospel that we could spend a whole day discussing it. So I would like to concentrate on a single word spoken by God the Father to Peter, James and John...LISTEN.
We live in an age of noise and sound—so much sound that it is difficult to listen. I would suggest that this Lent is a good time to take God's commandment seriously and to listen.
Listen to each other (and that's not always easy). Listening is an arduous art. You see most conversations are not conversations at all. Neither are they monologues where someone waits patiently until the other person has finished, then says exactly what they would have said if the other person had not said a word. Or conversations that become debates. A person does listen to another, but only in order to disagree, find fault, intercept, destroy.
To listen is to give yourself totally. To put yourself into the other's heart, not just hearing words, but a human person. The problem is, to listen is to risk. It takes your precious time, often when you can least afford it when you listen. You take on other people's problems when you have enough of your own. It means getting involved when you open yourself to your family, to those around you, those at work. To listen is really an act of love. It is wonderfully human and splendidly Christian to be where another can reach out to you, and you share not words but yourself.
I would suggest that during Lent you make time to listen to Christ. This is the command of the Father from the cloud. Listen to him. This is what Peter, James and John were ordered to do. Why? Because here it is, at once, God's Son, and God's revelation.
St. Paul reminds us in his Letter to the Hebrews in many and various ways, God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by a Son. This is not pious poetry. It is profound truth.
Jesus is God's revelation to us. He is the point of personal contact between God and us. How does Jesus speak to us? Vatican II rings loud and clear. Christ is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in church. Do you believe that? Do you really believe that when the readers say "This is the word of the Lord?" How do you listen? As attentively as Moses on Mt. Sinai when he received the Ten Commandments? As open to God's word as the teenage Virgin of Nazareth? Do you marvel like His towns people at the words that fall from Jesus' lips? Or has repetition dulled your appetite, and Christ is less charismatic than the Kardashians, less exciting Justin Bieber?
Listening to Jesus is not the same as listening to others. The same intensity, yes. The same openness, but a greater risk. When the Father told Peter, James and John to listen to Jesus, He was saying "Obey Him." Do what He tells you. Follow Him. If you really listen to Jesus in the proclaimed word, you have a fair chance of hearing Him in your everyday life. Not a vision, but Jesus speaking to your heart.
As truly as anyone you love profoundly speaks to your heart, our God is not imprisoned in a book, even a book of His own inspiring.
God also speaks to us in the world around us. As the psalmist told us, the heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. God could fashion nothing unless it imaged some perfection of His. There is no blade of grass, no flower, no mountain range, no sea that does not speak of God. If I miss their message, it is because I am not tuned into God. I am not listening.
God also speaks to us in our loneliness, our pain, our suffering, when nothing is going right. Only by listening in desperation do we hear God speak. Not explaining, not defining, not justifying. Only saying, trust Me. I am closer to you now than ever before. Every Gethsemane is My garden. Every Calvary is My Cross.
If you want to do something for Lent, if you want to share in the dying and rising of Jesus, forget the diet, the giving up. Simply listen.
Listen to one another.
Listen to Christ in the proclaimed word,
And listen to the word of God in the world around you.
Obey the command of God and listen.
Fr. Robert Warren
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Spiritual Director
Franciscan Friars
Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
GRAYMOOR P.O. Box 301, Garrison, NY 10524
For more information, call us at 888-720-8247.
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