I lectored at Mass on the recent feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. The first reading was taken from the tenth chapter of Romans, so appropriate since St. Andrew was sent by our Lord to preach, and preach he did. He proclaimed the Gospel as he hung on the cross… how’s that for apostolic ardor?
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul mentions various forms of the infinitive “to hear” at least five times. For example:
“And how can they can believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear, without someone to preach?” -Romans 10:14
And some verses later;
“But not everyone has heeded the good news… thus faith comes through what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” -Romans 10:16-17
This theme of “hearing” is taken up in the first Encyclical of Pope Francis, The Light of Faith;
“Saint Paul would use a formula which became classic: fides ex auditu, “faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17). Knowledge linked to a word is always personal knowledge; it recognizes the voice of the one speaking, opens up to that person in freedom and follows him or her in obedience. Paul could thus speak of the “obedience of faith.” – P. 29
“It recognizes the voice of the one speaking,” writes the Pope. This links up closely with Jesus’ words;
“…and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…because they recognize his voice.” –John 10:3-4
Which leads us to one of the great themes of Advent; waiting and listening for the Lord. I know that the best way for me to hear the voice of Jesus is to read the Word, and take time to ponder it; to really listen. The world, and my own inner ‘noise,’ can block out His voice, if I allow it. Maybe you can relate?
Recently, my wife and I ended our cable TV service. It was something we carefully discussed before finally “taking the plunge.” It has been just over a week, and we don’t miss it. Not only that, but we’re experiencing more peace, and a greater intimacy with the Lord. The fact that we did this in Advent is a blessed ‘God-incidence.’ Where our TV used to sit, now rests our Advent wreath. Each night, we’re dedicating special prayer time as we light the appropriate candle. We consider the daily Mass readings and let the Word open up for us in all its power and peace. In the silence, He speaks.
Let’s be honest. So much of TV is distraction. In fact, the world seems designed to create all kinds of ‘noise’ so as to drown out the one thing that we really need to hear. But we do have a choice.
My wife and I are choosing to listen to Jesus. It’s that simple…
…and it’s that hard.
COME LORD JESUS …and help us to listen!