ATTENTIVE LISTENING TO GOD’S WORDS: A FUNDAMENTAL TASK OF A CHRISTIAN.
1st Reading: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18; 2nd Reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1; Gospel: Luke 9:28-36.
Listening attentively is one of the major challenges many people struggle with in life. Sometimes, people may be gazing at a speaker, but in actual sense they are absent minded, perhaps their frame of mind may be distracted or tainted with biased thoughts. They can only listen properly if the speaker’s message is in tandem with their aspirations.
Unfortunately, due to globalization orchestrated by technological advancements, many people do not have time to listen attentively to God’s Word or Voice, even during Holy Mass or Church service. But, they can easily resort to strange or destructive voices accruing from friends, social media, society, etc., which tend to influence their behaviors and mindsets negatively.
Historically, Abraham became a very close friend of God simply because he was always docile and attentive to His Voice and Commands. The first reading of today lends credence to this historical fact. Abraham had absolute faith and trust in God that what God promised him would surely come to fruition. His unwavering faith is praised, because he believed God’s promise despite the fact that his wife Sarah was barren. Sequel to this, God reckoned it to him as righteousness and thus established a covenant with him. Hence, faith is the basis of God’s covenant with humanity, and those who receive God’s word with faith enter into a covenant with Him.
Last Sunday, we saw how Jesus Christ refused to perform a miracle the devil requested of Him despite the fact that He was famished after 40 days fasting. The reason is very clear: His main food is to always listen to His Father and to do ONLY what He wants Him to do (John 4:34). In other words, obedience to the voice of God takes precedence in His life.
In the Gospel of today, Jesus Christ went up to the mountain to pray with His three disciples (Peter, James and John) and to seek the approval of God for the decisive step He was about to take. He would never do anything or take any step without the approval of God (John 5:30). While praying, He transfigured, and Moses (great law-giver of the people of Israel) and Elijah (greatest of the prophets) appeared in glorious splendour and spoke to Him about His passion and death, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Suddenly, God’s voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35).
Moreover, Jesus Christ had earlier told His disciples about His impending passion and death, so He also wanted to use this medium to show them a glimpse of what His glorified humanity would become after His ascension, so that they would be encouraged and remain steadfast in the terrible test of faith which His passion and death would be for them.
Surprisingly, His disciples were distracted by a deep sleep (mental lethargy) initially, but only saw His glorious splendour when they were fully awake. Peter, then requested for a permanent residence for themselves and Jesus, in the fellowship of the saints in Heaven, but immediately, God made him to understand that the prerequisite for having access to that abode is to always listen to the voice of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, Jesus Christ also made this clear while addressing His disciples: “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). His mother (Blessed Virgin Mary) knew actually that once anyone listens to her Son, divine blessings would surely ensue. Consequently, she told the servants during wedding at Cana in Galilee: “Do whatever He tells you to do” (John 2:5).
In affirming the statements of Jesus and Mary, St. James further averred that listening to Jesus Christ entails doing whatever He tells us and not just listen and deceive ourselves (James 1:22). This implies that listening attentively to Jesus Christ (Word of God) and obeying His commands are the preeminent tasks of an authentic Christian.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul enjoins us through the Philippians, to imitate his footsteps just as he always imitates and listens attentively to Jesus Christ both in words and in actions, rather than listening to those strange or destructive voices (friends, social media, society, etc.) that tend to influence our behaviors and mindsets negatively. One of the ways of imitating Christ is to die with Him (destroying our selfishness) (Mark 8:34). Also, to always have faith and trust in God, meditate on His Words daily, and thus, develop the habit of waiting patiently for His divine intervention in all circumstances.
Finally, God loves us so much and that’s why He gave up His Son on the Cross as a Sacrificial Lamb for our salvation. He always wants to be in communion with us at all times. For the scripture says: “In the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many moments; but in these last days, He has spoken to us in the person of His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Since by the virtue of our Baptism, we have made a covenant with God, let us always be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and eschew the things that engender mental lethargy or deafness to the Word of God in our lives.
May the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, free you from every spiritual deafness, grant you the grace to always listen attentively to the voice of God with faith and trust, and be obedient to His commands in all circumstances, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.
Dramatized Audio Bible