From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

“Paying Attention to the Voices” (Original date: August 11, 2013

Wisdom 18:6-9              Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12                 Luke 12:32-48

Gospel Summary

This past week was the 68th anniversary of the dropping of two Atomic bombs on Japan, one on the city of Hiroshima and another two days later on Nagasaki. We go to great lengths to keep from facing the enormity of this devastation to civilians in the name of ‘the casualties of war’. In the beginning of today’s gospel reading, Jesus expresses to his disciples that He knows how powerless we sometimes feel in a world where this kind of horrible violence is so prevalent. But immediately He goes on to say that we are not to fear, because our heavenly Father is pleased to give us the kingdom, the kingdom of Justice and Peace, of Light and Truth. It is precisely because we as Christians are to rely on love and generosity rather than on control and violence that we are eligible for this most precious gift,” ultimate freedom and happiness.

To rely on the way of love and kindness, which often appears so unpromising, is, in fact, to lay up an “inexhaustible treasure in heaven.”.  Because, where our treasure is, there our heart is.

Is all so much “pie in the sky.” And that is why the remainder of this gospel reading focuses on the need for vigilance. The moment we are distracted from the wisdom of Jesus, we begin to slip back into the ways of the world, that is, we begin to forget what human life is all about.

To be vigilant means to keep Jesus and his teaching constantly before our eyes. We recall that, in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping, he warned them to “watch and pray”. It is only by staying totally aware of God’s presence among us that we will avoid living by the world’s standards, those standards that will leave us unprepared when the Lord comes for us.

Life Implications

We live in a world where the pace of life is far quicker than it was at the time of Jesus. Our planes and automobiles are designed to go faster and faster. Even our medications must work ever more quickly. Sometimes we seem to be in a whirlwind and it is almost impossible to keep our bearings. All of this makes it so much more difficult to live in the kind of peaceful world where the voice of God can be heard. It is not possible to find such a serene existence without a conscious and deliberate effort on our part.

Being alert to the reality and presence of God in our personal world means learning how to live a slower, simpler life. It will bring us more in tune with a life of genuine prayer.

The most important element in prayer is an attitude of being attentive to the Lord. Like Elijah on Mount Horeb, we are surrounded by thunder, lightning and earthquake, but it is the “tiny whispering sound” of God within ourselves that we need to hear.

God is constantly whispering to us that we are his “little flock”—that we are precious in his eyes and that he wants very much to give us the freedom and joy of his kingdom. But too often we are not listening. We are bombarded by sounds and sights that frighten and confuse us. The only remedy is to attune our ears to the divine sounds of love and harmony and peace. We recall the words of the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me”. But we need to be quiet if we wish to hear the Lord knocking at the door of our hearts.

We all know how distressing it is to be saying something only to discover that no one is listening. At such times we realize that attentive listening is one of the most precious gift that we can offer to another person. Well, it is also the most precious gift we give to God when we offer him our attentiveness. And when we do so, God will speak to us as he spoke to Jesus at his baptism: You are my beloved child; in you I am well pleased. These words, spoken very softly, can change the world for us.  And it will keep us from taking for granted the terrible, inexorable forces of violence, both around us and within us, that can stifle both our spirit and our world.

Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.

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