Monday, May 6, 2013

Teach Them to Hear His Voice

This was a reflection I gave at all Sunday masses. As part of my training in seminary we are asked to preach, usually at daily masses. We all have one Sunday mass where we preach and are evaluated by both parishioners (selected ahead of time) and the priests. This received good marks, so I hope you find it useful. The readings may be found here, and because of this I didn't cite my quotations.

6th Sunday of Easter

Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” For some these words represent a hardheadedness or desire of some to control the lives of others. I would rather have you believe that these men had all the right intentions. These were Jewish converts to Christianity and taught that the law of Moses is what leads to Christ. In their minds, having all people follow the law of Moses was not only necessary, but it was the best way to live.

As is the case with so many things in life, what we believe to be the best and proper disposition may in fact be the most burdensome. We devote a great deal of our time to planning and working out many things to our advantage. Dedicating ourselves to our work and providing for ourselves and those we love are important. We say things such as “I want to do my best” and “I want what's best for my children.”

At the same time, in the few quiet moments we're given, have you asked yourself “What does God want for me?”

The Apostles responded to their brothers and to the whole Church: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond [the] necessities [we all share]” (cf. Acts 15:28).

The Apostles give a pronouncement that is sound advice up to this very day: do nothing that impedes the will of the Lord God. My brothers and sisters, while certainly our sins block out the words of Christ in the world, even our good intentions and motives can do the same. Like these men who urged others to follow the Mosaic Law, we also say “When I do this....” or “When he or she does that” then they will be happy.

As parents, allow your children to hear God's voice; teach them to hear His voice. He does not always speak in a thunderclap but many times He speaks in a quiet whisper.

His voice is simple and his call is clear: “Follow me. Take up your cross and follow me.” The cross is not only the struggles we face in life but also the task that he has appointed to each and every one of us.

Parents, teachers, and adults: if you see the qualities of priesthood or religious life in young men acknowledge it, for you may be the voice of God speaking to their hearts. If you see the qualities of religious life in young women, acknowledge it, for they yearn in their hearts to serve God.

All of us, whether married or single, are called to spiritual fatherhood and motherhood. No priest, brother, or sister is without children and the Lord provides abundantly for them.

Therefore, do not be troubled, for Christ says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” The peace and security we promise on our own is a raging storm compared to the tranquility Christ promises. Indeed, “not as the world gives” does Christ give peace to us.

Do not be afraid, troubled or hesitant if a child or someone you know seeks priesthood or religious life. This is a blessing, and there is no greater peace or security than discerning God's will at a young age. God forms each of us during our lives so that we become the person he wants us to be.

There are those who do not listen to His voice. For some, it is because the Word was never spoken. For others, they never listened.

Jesus says in our gospel today, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

How can we keep His word, my brothers and sisters, if we do not listen or call others to listen? His word is found here, at the holy mass, and proceeds out to the world from its source, the Eucharist.

But if we keep His word, responding to it little by little, the Father will love us with that same intense love that He loves Christ with for all eternity. In that growing love the Spirit dwells in us—our bodies become a temple.

When we receive the Eucharist we should not only place him in our mouths but also place Him in the tabernacle of our hearts. We then carry a place of repose in us and here we find strength for the task appointed to us. Return to Him and He will speak to you.

The Eucharist is Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Listen to Jesus and let the Word remain in you. As the Psalm says, “So may your way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation.” We, everyone gathered here, are called to make His way known to all nations. It begins in our hearts and in our homes, opening them both to Him: “Lord, let your face shine upon us!”