23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 33:7-9 Psalm 95 Romans 13:8-10 Matthew 18:15-20
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
At the heart of listening to and for the Voice of God is the development of a relationship with Jesus, who walks the path of our lives and whispers in the most awesome yet unmistakable ways that he is present in all that we do and all that we are. Above all, God wants to communicate with us because that is what friends do. They listen, and they speak. The apostle John tells us that the Son was in the beginning with God and that “all things were made through him.” He is the Word that God speaks, the One who brings ideas from the creative mind of God into tangible existence. We communicate with people we care about and with those who are part of our orbit in life – family, friends, congregation, and those who touch our lives, if only through prayer. We listen and speak with purpose and concern because there is no relationship without communication. It is at the heart of our call to true discipleship. God can and does show up and speak anywhere and anytime he chooses. I am reminded of Aslan, the lion in the Narnia Tales of C.S. Lewis, who characterizes God as a God of surprises communicating sometimes through a roar, sometimes with words that only you and no one else can hear, and sometimes with a silent Presence that only becomes fully evident with the passage of time. But God does not often add his voice to a chaotic splash of sound in the world, in the church, or even in the musings of our mind. The Book of Kings speaks of a “still small voice, a gentle whisper,” and that appears to have a more prominent tone in how God communicates. We hear the voice of God when our heart and mind become still, resting in the Presence of this silent One who calls us to himself and beckons us to listen to him. We hear him when all the other raucous voices shouting messages of discord become silent. “Be still, and know that I am God.”
We have learned so much about our world and all it holds, an ongoing cosmic evolution that brought the universe through billions of years of existence to the present yet continuous evolution; we followed the history of a world that yearned for the ever present God and found him in the Person of Jesus, the Christ. It was this Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who spoke of the sheep who listened for His Voice, who trusted only the voice of the shepherd. And to us, he says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Where then, do we hear the voice of God? We hear it in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, in loving relationships built upon the Word, in the gifts of creation, in the ever evolving universe that speaks of God and draws us to him, and in our desire to hear that Voice and proclaim it to a waiting world.
“If you hear the Voice of God, harden not your hearts.”
Sr. Anne Daniel Young, OP