"Christ lives, he has overcome death, he has overcome all these powers. We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy." (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 12 XI 2008)
"Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks the truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie." (Blessed John Paul II, Canonisation of Edith Stein, 11 X 1998)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

LISTEN (a Biblical meditation)

In 2007 I attended a retreat day with some religious brothers from the Taize community in France. The community is an ecumenical Christian community who witness to the faith. Each year around 100,000 young people go to Taize. The brothers mostly just listen to the young people. Many of you will also be familiar with the popular Taize songs. These are simple, repetitive chants which are very meditative. These songs also encourage a deep meditation and listening to God.

I would like to share with you the importance of listening to God as shared by one of the brothers. This is done through reference to various passages of Scripture.

The first passage is know as Shema Yisrael. This is the centrepiece of Jewish morning and evening prayer services. This prayer is found in the book of Deuteronomy 6:4 “Listen, Israel: The LORD is our God. The LORD is the only God.” As we can see, the first word is “Listen.” This is the beginning and end of prayer - to be open to listening attentively.

This is  again highlighted in the story of God calling out to Samuel. Samuel is asleep and hears a voice calling in the night. Samuel assumes it is Eli calling him and he runs to wake up Eli and ask him what he wants. Eli tells him that he did not call him and instructs Samuel to return to sleep. This happens a second and a third time. On the third occasion Eli realises that it is God calling Samuel (who was sleeping in the room containing the Ark of the Covenant) and instructs him as follows- “Go lie down," Eli told Samuel. "When he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD. I'm listening.'" (1Sam 3:9).
Samuel does as instructed and the Lord instructs him.

We now see the same theme appearing in the New Testament. At the baptism of Jesus: A voice came out of the cloud and said, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him!" (Luke 9:35)

And when one of the scribes ask Jesus which is the most important commandment what is the first word Jesus says?
“Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. “ (Mar 12:29). Listen.

Sometimes when we pray we are so busy listing our petitions that we don’t wait for the answer. We don’t join with Samuel in saying “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.” We need to spend time in the School of Silence in the presence of the Lord and listen to wait he moves our hearts towards. Let us pray that we can find the time, courage, and patience to do so.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

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