When we are listening to the radio, sometimes the frequencies from two stations clash and we do not get clarity for the hearing. So we tune it to the right frequency to hear it properly. Likewise we need to tune our heart in order to hear God’s voice clearly.
We can hear voices from the outside world, from our hardened conscience or from our right conscience which is built on the Word of God. We need to discern from where the thoughts, motivations, urges come.
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they know me” (Jn 10.27). Through a familiar imagery for the Israelites, Jesus was bringing forth a truth. The shepherd, tending the sheep, goes in front of the sheep with a staff and a whistle. Each time when he wants to direct the sheep, he uses his whistle producing a particular sound. When he wants his sheep to turn to the right in order to lead them to green pastures or to fresh waters, he whistles a particular sound; the sheep understands the message and turns to the right. When some danger is ahead, he sounds the whistle with a particular voice and the sheep run as directed by the shepherd. Suppose two sheep among the flock think: “There is nice green pasture here; let us graze for some more time”. If they disobey the shepherd’s voice and stay back, they will be in danger.
The Lord, who knows what is good for us in each situation and in each state of life, is talking to us through His Word, through His Church and through the gentle whispers of the Holy Spirit within our heart. But we need to attune ourselves to receive it. In the busy schedule of our lives, and much more, in this technological age, attuning ourselves to the voice of the Lord becomes harder.
According to a Vatican spokesman, Fr.Federico Lombardi, “without a spiritual life, people are at the risk of losing their souls. In the age of cell phone and internet, it is very difficult to protect silence and nourish the interior dimension of life. There is an interior and spiritual dimension of life that must be guarded and nourished. If not, it can become barren to the point of drying up and indeed dying. Today it is a very grave threat and it is the most irreparable misfortune” .
If we fail to heed to the voice of the Lord and amend our ways, the warning is given to us that we will be crushed by the enemy, “because you did not recognise the time of your visitation from God” (Lk 19.44).
A preacher was giving a retreat for College students. At the end of the retreat a young boy came and told the preacher: “I liked your preaching. But I will do all that after some time. Life is short; now I am in the prime of my age. I want to enjoy life. I have many girl friends and I like pornography”. After four years, the preacher was giving a retreat in the same locality. A very sad looking man approached the preacher and asked: “Do you recognise me? I am the one who came to you and said, when you were giving retreat in our college four years ago that ‘life is short; I want to enjoy’…Then he started weeping. In tears he said: “Yes, my life is very short. I am an AIDS patient now. I may die soon”.
The Lord was speaking to his conscience when he was listening to the Word during the retreat. Gentle was His call, giving him the freedom of choice. It was time of ‘the Lord’s visitation in his life’. But he did not want to heed to it. The loving Lord had a beautiful plan of welfare for this young man as for each of us. “Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jer 29.11). Our enemy, the devil (1 Pet 5.8) also has a plan for us: “to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn 10.10a). If I live, listening to the voice of the Lord, His plan of welfare about me will become a reality and I can taste the goodness of the Lord all throughout my life. But if I give a deaf ear to the voice of the Lord, and rebel against His loving admonitions, then I am giving chance for the enemy to influence my life. And his plan is to destroy my life here and hereafter.
In olden times, people used to catch rats at home with a trap. If a rat smells the blood of a rat caught in the trap, it will avoid running into the trap. It learns a lesson from a previous incident of some other rat dying in the trap. We, human beings do not learn from our past experience or that of others. We rather jump into the same trap thinking that nothing will happen to me. The number of divorce taking place, and consequently children suffering from psychological problems, becoming addicts of drugs and sex, should open our eyes to the reality of the hard consequences of our leaving God and His Word out of our life, resulting in misusing our freedom for premarital sexual relations, leading to no solidarity of family life. But such behaviours are “blinding the mind of the unbelievers” (2 Cor 4.4). Through the prophets the Lord tells: “Oh that today you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your prosperity would have been like a river” (Is. 48.18). “If you had walked in the way of God, you would be living in peace forever” (Bar 3.13)
St.Stephen was accusing the Jews: “You stiff necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as our ancestors used to “ (acts 7.51).
Lord Jesus, save us from this peril. Touch our hearts and open it to listen to your Word; touch our minds and illumine it with your light.