Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“Discernment is a light of protection and direction in a world that grows increasingly dark.”

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls. – Mother Teresa

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.

Of the many religious concepts the world struggles with I think one of the biggest is, “God’s will”. In our individual religious journeys this may be the source of our greatest discomfort.  Throughout history the misappropriation of “God’s will” by man has led to some ugly results.   Countless religious wars, colonization, absolutist monarchies and, more recently, terrorism all, in some or large part, stem from the misuse of religion and a mistaken interpretation of what it means to execute God’s will on Earth.

But as all of today’s readings from Mass remind us, we cannot run from the notion that there is a will of God and we are indeed called to do it!  But what is it!?   Where do we find it?  Can we parse it out from various Bible passages?  Did I miss something in theology classes?

Sadly we currently live in an age when listening has become far less valued, in an age of talk-radio and television talk-shows where everybody talks but few listen; in an era when more and more people are using modern means of social communication to tell their own stories; in an epoch of “tell-all” journalism; in a marketing age when we’re bombarded with advertising messages that we often receive uncritically. We live in an era of so much talking and so much noise that it is becoming harder and harder to hear the voice of God which often comes, as it did for the Prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings 19:12), in the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit, in the whispers of daily events.

To put it simply, what we need is some quiet from all of the “noise pollution” that comes from our busyness, we then have to do something even more difficult. We have to shut up. We have to learn how to be quiet in front of the Lord and listen for his voice. We have to stop for a while giving him our laundry list of prayer intentions. We have to stop complaining to him about how others we live or work with are behaving. We have to stop telling him what’s wrong with his Church, or our country, or particular public figures. We have to stop talking and listen to him, so that he can speak to us in this quiet and whisper to us from within.

Then and only then will we slowly discern God’s will and more importantly, be given the grace to do it.

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