February 28, 2021 – Second Sunday of Lent
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022821.cfm)
Once a man approached a priest and asked, “Father, how come God seems so absent and silent? Why we don’t feel and hear him listening to us anymore as He used to be? Why does God no longer speak to us His people?” The priest sadly replied, “It is not that God no longer speaks to His people. It is that no one these days can stoop down low & silent enough to listen. No one… can stoop down low & silent enough… to listen.”
Occasionally (if not most often) we experience the absence and silence of God in Jesus. Though we trust and believe that God is with us – the Lord is with us, we live through moments in life where God and Jesus seem distant and silent. But is God really no longer listening and talking to us? Has he really abandoned us? Or is it we become too noisy, self-preoccupied, or high and far enough to listen to Him?
During last Ash Wednesday this year, Pope Francis in his message suggests some things that we may fast from this Lenten Season. Like fasting from hurting words, sadness, anger, pessimism, worries, complaints, bitterness, selfishness, grudges & finally, from words. Noteworthy is his last final suggestion: “Fast from words; be silent and listen.” Sound simple, but we do know how difficult for ourselves to be deprived of and abstained from words nowadays. With a lot of things happening & going on, both our world outside & our world inside ourselves are getting noisier & noisier to the point that we cannot anymore hear ourselves & don’t know anymore how to listen to others, much more to God. If we really come to think of it, sometimes we do truly need to fast from our words so that we may become silent in order to listen to God, others & ourselves. We do know the destructive ill-effects of miscommunication, misinformation, & fake news to our lives today, simply because of our irresponsible use of our words & our unwillingness to listen. At this time, we should be wise-enough to be careful to use our words, for it can make life Better OR Bitter. Learn to listen first before using our words.
It is also interesting that if we happen to play with the letters in the word: LISTEN, we may realize different levels of meaning. Try to rearrange all the letters in the word: Listen, and form other words using all & same letters… Well, from the word, “Listen”, we can form the words “silent” & “enlist” & nothing else. From these words: listen, silent, enlist, we may form the challenge: “Enlist oneself to be silent in order to listen”, or “Be silent, enlist oneself to listen”, or “Listen, silently enlist oneself”. All of these reflects the need to for us to willingly be quiet ourselves in order to hear what is being said. In other words, to opt for silent listening amidst our noisy words & our noisy world.
In our gospel today, we hear that the apostles heard God saying to them: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; LISTEN to Him.” Their experience of the Lord’s transfiguration has the same very simple message: Jesus is His beloved Son – God’s gift and word to us, so we must acknowledge and listen to Him intently. And we can only do this – acknowledge and listen to Jesus – like the apostle, not in noise, pre-occupation, and ambitions of our hearts, but in the shadow of God’s seeming silence and absence. Only by experiencing God’s silence that we recognize God’s glory in Lord’s transfiguration, transformation in our lives and hear intently God’s will for us now.
Pope Francis also once said: “People listen to radio, to TV and to gossips throughout the day, but do we take a bit a time each day to listen to Jesus?” True, we spend a lot of time listening to and knowing about others. We also may spend some time listening to and knowing about ourselves. But do we spend some time to listen to and know Jesus? Listening to Jesus entails praying low enough in and with God’s silence. Only in silent prayer, we can recognize Him and listen to Him. Thus, we do need to fast from our words in order to be silent enough to listen to Him.
So next time you find yourself restless and sleepless at night, stop counting sheep. Talk to the shepherd. Pray then silently and listen to Him, for the Lord has something to say and then you will hear what He got to say, especially during this Lenten Season & on our pandemic times.
So Help us God, So May it Be. Amen.