Homily for May 12, Thursday of the III week of Easter
The world today is a very busy and noisy place. The hours of our day that are not filled with work, are often filled with music, TV, movies, newspapers, magazines, and the internet. Those can all be good things, but it is easy for us to let them take control of our day instead of just helping us. Even when we make time to pray, our time with God can be noisy, since we can easily spend all of it reciting prayers and going over our lists of petitions and prayer intentions. These also are good and important things, but there is something else that is just as important: taking time to listen to God.
Our Lord points this out in the Gospel: the way to be taught by God and to go to Christ is to “listen to [the] Father and learn from Him.” The Father draws us to the Son, and the Son in turn reveals the Father to us. This is the path to eternal life. When we are receptive to God’s word and believe in Christ, He will “raise [us] up on the last day.”
The way to listen to God is by openness in prayer and attentiveness to Him throughout the day. We can start with standard prayers and our own specific petitions for our needs and those of others, but prayer is not like shopping, where we give God a list and expect Him to deliver. When there are things we don’t understand, or when we are seeking the path that God wants us to follow, we should ask Him for help and then silence ourselves in order to listen.
Not that God will usually respond to us in words as clearly as if we were speaking to Him on the telephone; it’s rarely that easy. However, we can express our need to God, then peacefully reflect on our circumstances and questions in His presence. Sometimes God will direct our thoughts fairly quickly in a direction that suddenly makes clear to us what we should do. Other times, we have to bring it to prayer over and over again, and clarity comes more slowly. Sometimes reading and reflecting on an appropriate Scripture passage can also help.
There are times too when God gives us guidance or answers outside of prayer time, through the words of Scripture, through wise counselors, or through other signs that speak to us in special ways. In the first reading today, we see a good example of this. St Philip receives the inspiration to take a certain route and catch up with the Ethiopian man’s chariot. He heeds this call, and as a result, he is able to catechize and baptize the Ethiopian court official – who, in his turn, is seeking help to understand the Scriptures. He is open to seeing St Philip as a messenger of divine providence and listens to him with an open heart. They both are listening for God’s word, and God’s plan for them is fulfilled.
May God help us all to be attentive for His voice in our prayer and in our daily lives. May He grant us to perceive and to receive His message with clarity of mind and generosity of heart, so that His will may be done in us and in the world.