Readings for May 12, 2019
Acts 13:14, 43-52
My dad has suffered from hearing loss for a number of years now, but a few months ago he finally agreed to get hearing aids. His hearing improved immediately. Unfortunately, his listening did not. To some extent, he deserves to be cut some slack on this considering his age and what he has pushed through in his life. Sometimes, though, I have a hard time cutting him that slack.
Irish novelist Marian Keyes theorized as to why that is. She wrote, “The things we dislike most in others are the characteristics we like least in ourselves.” And it’s true. While my dad has given much to me, I have found that his scant listening skills and limited attention span are included in that list. And if I’m not careful, these traits can keep me from salvation.
When Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice,” hearing is only the first step. As St. Paul points out, the Word was first heard by the Chosen People but at the time of Jesus they rejected that voice, listening to others instead. Doing so, many separated themselves from the gifts of the Savior. I hear God’s Word every week at Mass and in daily reading of the Word, but I must ask myself, am I really listening?
Jesus says of his sheep, “No one can take them out of my hand.” Yet if I hear but do not listen to God’s Word, I risk condemning myself as “unworthy of eternal life.” When I condemn myself, it is important to understand that that I have chosen this path. Jesus alone is my Judge, and he will always be my judge, and I will always be in his hand, but it is up to me to choose to listen and then, in faith, live the truth of Christ.
This also means that I cannot pick and choose which parts of the Word I listen to. I can’t just select a particular verse that suits my momentary need or seems to support my own opinion and assume I have a complete understanding of God’s role in and will for my life. I need to know the whole story. Only then can I be “an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” I am part of God’s flock. I alone can separate myself from that flock. Fortunately, God has handed me to Jesus to shepherd me and keep me safe. I need to listen for his voice and set aside all others.
Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd me and lead me to springs of life-giving water. All glory and praise to the Lamb who was slain, to Him Who alone is worthy. Amen