April 30, 2010

Listening for the Voice of God

Oftentimes someone will question what God's will is and how to go about listening to God.  God has chosen to speak through humanity - this is the meaning of the incarnation.  God reveals himself in a human way.  This continues in the Body of Christ.  The Church is where Christ continues to speak to each of us: through the teaching handed on to us, the Bible, the Liturgy, Sacraments and in our relating to one another in his Body.   But to hear his voice, we must learn to listen.  How do we really listen?  St. Benedict precieved the connection between obedience and listening - which are related words in Latin.  Yet to really obey, to really listen, we must go pass the words of a command we think we understand and attend with our whole being to everything being communicated.  This is especially true when we are attending to the Lord in our neighbor (who could be as much a complete stranger as spouse, child, parent or friend).  Anthony Bloom, in Meditations in his reflection on the Pharisee and the Publican sheds some light.

"How different Christ's way is to our own horrible gift of seeing through layers of transparency, of translucence and of light, the equivocal twilight of human imperfection or the darkness of a still unenelightened but rich internal chaos.  WE are not content to judge actions without giving people the benefit of the doubt; we question their very motives, suspect their intentions, instead of 'believing all things, hoping all things.'

"We must act ruthlessly against this tendency we have to judge everything from the viewpoint of our little self.  The first step on the way into the Kingdom is defined by Christ as 'deny thyself.'  We could put it in harsher terms: when we see that once again, instead of seeing or hearing somone, we are wrapped up in ourselves, we must round this obstrusive 'I' and cry out in anger:'Get behind me, Satan.  You think not of the things of God.  Out of my way, I am tired of seeing your face!'"

Those who in beginning to pray learn to listen to God in their neighbor by renouncing the propensity to judge from the view point of 'self'' discover God speaking through the hearts of all those He has entrusted to us.  It is a matter of surrendering our pride and embracing Christ's own humility.  He is the One who yearns to speak to our hearts - He is also the One who delights in listening for our voice.  In this humble listening, we hear the resurrected voice of Christ with His own resurrected ears.  This is how we come to know the will of God.