The Readings for the Day
found at http://www.io.com/~kellywp/CalndrsIndexes/Calendar2011.html
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
How Do We Hear?
by Marjorie George
John’s gospel for today begins with some Greeks coming to Philip seeking an introduction to Jesus. One might think it strange to find Greeks in Jerusalem at the time of Passover. But the Greeks were seekers of truth. They were wanderers, driven by their desire to learn new things. Perhaps some of them had been at the temple’s Court of the Gentiles and witnessed Jesus’ overturning the tables of the money changers and sellers of doves. Perhaps they wished to meet this strange man who acted with unexplainable authority.
In response to the Greeks’ inquisitiveness, Jesus launches into a monologue about the reality of the situation. His hour has come, and those who would follow him must also be willing to “die” so that something new can be born. It seems a peculiar response to the Greeks’ questioning, more than they wanted to know, but that is the way of Christ. There is nothing simple about the path he has chosen.
It is no secret, nor shame, that Jesus was anxious about what lay ahead. He tells us that his soul “is troubled” (Jn 12:27), even as he realizes that what he has come to do he must do. He is committed; he will go through with it to glorify God’s name. He announces this to his listeners. And then God himself confirms it – a voice comes from heaven, saying “I have glorified [my name] and will glorify it again.” This is not a voice for Jesus alone; the surrounding crowd hears it too. In fact, Jesus says the voice has come for the crowd, not for him.
God had spoken aloud to his son twice before — at his baptism (Mark 1:11) and at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:7). All three instances came just after Jesus had made a momentous decision about the direction of his ministry. God’s confirmation of those decisions was dramatic.
We long to hear the voice of God today. “Just tell me what to do, Lord,” we plead. We look for signs in Scripture, in sermons, in the words of friends who so freely lend their advice in the dilemma that faces us. And sometimes God is silent. We agonize, we pray, we implore God for direction. But even after all the searching, we seem to be left to figure it out for ourselves and make the best decision we can. And God honors that. God understands the human condition of fear and confusion. And God asks us to follow him even when we can’t hear his voice aloud. He asks us to trust him even when we are not assured of the outcome. Years later we realize that God was with us, directing us, all along. We heard his voice even when we didn’t know it.
The psalmist also appeals to God for intervention. “Be not far from me; come quickly to help me, O my God,” says Psalm 71 (vs 13). “I have always trusted you,” (vs 1). “You are my hope; don’t fail me now” (vs 5, 9). The psalmist has been through this before. “I was sustained by you ever since I was born” (vs 6) he proclaims. “You are my hope . . . my confidence since I was young” (vs 5). Therefore, “I shall always wait in patience” (vs 14).
The Greeks sought, Christ committed, the psalmist waits in patience. Each in his own way hears the voice of God. Speak, Lord; your servant listens.
Questions for reflection:
1. God often speaks to us through that with which we are most comfortable – a book, scripture, words of others, nature. Through what medium does God usually speak to you?
2. Have you ever been told by someone that something you said or did long ago, of which you were not even aware at the time, was very meaningful to that person? Does it make you realize how important your words and actions are?
3. Hearing God speak requires that we listen for his voice. Do you take time to be still and listen for God? When and how?
4. On this Tuesday of Holy Week, Christ draws nearer to the anguish of the cross and the triumph of his resurrection. Take five minutes today to meditate on that.