One of my first jobs outside the home was at the Sauk Rapids Perkins (now closed). It was open 24 hours. Being part time, I worked mostly evenings and weekends, including the weekend “bar shift” which meant heading home around 3am. Outside of the Good Neighbor --- WCCO, there were no local radio stations on the air. I can remember searching the radio dial and tuning in WLS out of Chicago or station out of Denver or Oklahoma.
Today with the various media platforms available to us 24/7, we have countless listening and viewing options at our fingertips. The challenge is gleaning accurate information from the right or left leaning commentary. With so many competing voices coming at us, it can be difficult to hear the voice of God. Ron Rolheiser notes, “There’s rarely a moment within our waking lives that someone or something isn’t calling out to us and—even in our sleep—dreams and nightmares ask for our attention. And each voice has its own particular cadence and message.
Some voices invite us in, promising us life if we do this or that or buy a certain product or idea; others threaten us.
Some voices beckon us towards hated, bitterness, and anger, while others challenge is towards love, graciousness, and forgiveness. Some voices tell us that they are playful and humorous, not to be taken seriously, even as others trumpet that they are urgent and weighty, the voice of nonnegotiable truth, God’s voice.”
Much like the people in today’s gospel we can feel like sheep without a shepherd. With voices bombarding us constantly, how do we recognize God’s voice among and within all of these voices?
The answer is not easy. For everything that God has created is good. God speaks to us in many ways, not all of which are religious. It is also true that God does not speak to us everything that claims to be religious.
Discerning God’s voice sometimes is gut feeling. But even in those moments, it is always good to see how our gut feeling measures up against church teaching. Contrary to the claims there is no absolute truth, sure and certain truth comes to us in the scriptures and the teachings found in our tradition through the works of popes and church councils. It is important to remember that the Word of God, always calls us upward, drawing us to holiness. In this we can expect the Word of God to: invite us to live beyond our fears, challenge our comfort zone, remind us we are his precious son or daughter, affirm us and never put us down, help us acknowledge the complexities of our world and our lives, and is heard where there is authentic enjoyment and gratitude.
To hear God’s voice requires practice, practice that comes through our daily prayer. Through your spoken prayers and in the silence, may you hear the word of God speaking in your heart.