No. 21 Listen to Him
Lord, how could we love you more? To love you as you want us to? Such are the prayers that those who thankfully accept God as their Father continually make. And for those who listen for His voice the reply is clear. ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him’. This was the Father’s acclamation of Jesus at his transfiguration (Mark 9:7, Matt. 17:5, Luke 9:35) and earlier at his baptism by John the Baptist (Matt 3:16). And we can hear the same words addressed to humankind today, and most especially to those of us who call ourselves Christian.
The Father’s loving but most important command has the potential to illumine and transform the human heart and soul in our day; and also the world which needs these words, far more than it realises. Because, dazzled and disoriented by information overload and the accompanying mix of half-truths and half-digested ideas, the Father’s word is either ridiculed, ignored or regarded as open to negotiation by the multitudes who insist on going their own way, and justify their doing so.
This impels the sincere Christian to ask: How do we listen, or begin to listen to ‘the Chosen One’ of God (Luke 9:35)? When, where and how does He speak to us? What does He say?
Of course, we know the answer. Our difficulty is putting it into practice.
Christ speaks to us by his word and example
made known in the Bible,
guarded and amplified by tradition, and
watched over by the Church he founded
and its Magisterium.
Christ opens our hearts and minds to the things of God,
attracts our attention, and
strengthens our purpose,
through the sacraments and the Holy Mass,
and gives us consciences responsive to the promptings of grace. If only we want and ask him to.
For all this, prayer is essential. Not necessarily long and with many fine words, but sincere prayer which is honest before God. “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner”. “Thy will be done.”
Churches in Crisis
In our highly individualistic and so-called democratic age there is the perennial attempt to use ‘peoples’ power’ and the mass media to force churches to turn a blind eye to, and even to condone and bless moral aberration. As a result we have the tragic spectacle of Christian churches speaking with dissonant voices on matters such as abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriages, the ordination to the priesthood of women, of practising homosexuals, pre-marital chastity, the indissolubility of the marriage bond, and so on. When the Church declares that our primary loyalty is to God and that the commandments of God are not to be compromised for whatever reason, and refuses to yield to pressure, those who are dissatisfied walk away.
The Christic Example
In St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (2:5-8) we are asked to ‘Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross’ (New Jerusalem Bible).
This was the will of the Father for His only begotten Son. The way of Divine Love. No power play or quest for human glory. No compulsion or lording it over others, but total self-emptying and self-giving. To do His Father’s will in all things, whatever the cost, whatever the outcome or prospective outcome. Not to bend or distort the Father’s will, or to do wrong for the sake of ‘doing good’. Where the Catholic Church does the same it exposes itself to the disappointment and the wrath of many. But it remains true to God, and true to the Chosen One of God, for that is its God-given brief. That brief is ours too.
Our Lady advises us
‘Do whatever he tells you.’ (John 2:5)
‘Bend my heart to your will, O God. By your word give me life.’ (Prayer of the Church, Wednesday Morning, Week 3)