Are You Listening?
“It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct, hearing voices…” —Joyce Behar, The View; foxnews.com
That was television host Joyce Behar’s conclusion to the assertion by a former White House staffer that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence claims that “Jesus tells him to say things.” Behar, who was raised Catholic, continued:
“My question is, can he talk to Mary Magdalene when his wife isn’t in the room?” —rawstory.com, Feb. 13th, 2018
Co-host Sunny Hostin quipped:
“Look, I’m Catholic, I’m a faithful person, but I don’t know that I want my vice president talking in tongues.” —Ibid.
The problem today is not that some people are hearing the voice of God, but that most people aren’t. Unfortunately, while we continue down the road of “progress”, many of us--especially us men who are being looked to to step forward and lead by giving our lives away in unselfish love--choose not to spend time even trying to place ourselves in an environment where we give the Father the opportunity to speak to us and form our hearts. Perhaps the greatest crisis in our culture and in our own inability to become the men we have been made to be is that we do not take prayer seriously, and we do not seriously pray. We men who are looked to by those entrusted to our care--especially all women--stink at truly listening. We are not great at listening not just with our ears, but also with our minds and our hearts--especially to those whose voices should matter most to us. We men can be such egotistical, prideful, and self-reliant control freaks (#selfknowledge) that the thought of honestly listening and taking to heart any possible view of reality other than our own is not something on our radar...
“You do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:26-27)
“Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.” (John 8:47)
Jesus says that people do not “hear” His voice because they “do not believe” and therefore “do not belong to God.” This is why the Pharisees, and many of us--myself included--even though “raised” in the faith and well versed in the Scriptures (and Church teaching), could not “hear” nor understand the voice of the Lord. Their (and our) hearts were hardened through pride, stubbornness, indifference, and self-reliance rather than complete and total surrender to, and reliance on, Him.
“Oh, that today you would hear his voice, ‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert…” (Heb 3:7-8)
The pre-condition to hearing God’s voice in our hearts is faith, a child-like faith. “Unless you turn and become like children,” Jesus said, “you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” That is, the graces, blessings, benefits, and love of the Kingdom will never reach your heart…
“Because He is found by those who do not test Him, and manifests Himself to those who do not disbelieve Him.” (Wisdom 1:2)
Perhaps the primary reason why we are on the verge of the complete destruction of a culture which honors and reverences the Voice of Truth and His Gospel of Life - a culture in which suicide rates are exploding, school shootings and terrorist attacks are on the rise, earthquakes and natural disasters are increasing, and the entire moral order is being up-ended - is because even God’s chosen people, especially His sons to whom He has given authority over all of His creation, have become mesmerized by “all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life.” The inordinate appetites of the flesh drown out the voice of the Lord, and hence, the “sheep” are lost.
That, and we are now living in a post-Christian era. As Dr. Ralph Martin points out:
“…the supportive culture of “Christendom” has virtually disappeared… Christian life today has to be lived deeply, or else it may not be possible to live it at all.” —The Fulfillment of All Desire, p. 3
Indeed, St. John Paul II warned that we are “Christians at risk’ today without a deep and authentic Christ-centered spirituality, one that is lived…in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2558
“Yes, dear brothers and sisters, our Christian communities must become genuine ‘schools’ of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly ‘falls in love’… it would be wrong to think that ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill their whole life.” —POPE ST. JOHN PAUL II, Novo Millenio Inuente, n. 33-34
In fact, “ordinary” Christians will not survive these times:
“They must either be holy—which means sanctified—or they will disappear. The only Catholic families that will remain alive and thriving in the twenty-first century are the families of martyrs.” —Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Make today an opportunity, then, dear brothers, to learn and hear the voice of God. I don’t mean audibly (and I doubt Mr. Pence meant that either). It is said that the language of God is silence. He speaks in the stillness of the heart in communications that we cannot hear, but which the child-like heart can perceive: silent “words” that give life and direction, strength and wisdom in the school of love. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is waiting to speak to you…waiting for you to enter into the inner room of your heart, shut the door, and listen.
And you will learn to hear His voice.
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:11)
Jesus, Meek and Humble of Heart, Make our Hearts Like Unto Thine.