Sunday, January 27, 2019

Which Voice?

January 27, 2019 –– 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nehemiah 8:2–4a, 5–6, 8–10 / Psalm 19 / 1 Corinthians 12:12–30 / Luke 1:1–4, 4:14–21
Which Voice?

We are inundated with voices.

––in the programs we watch on TV….
––in the words of songs we hear….
––in the opinions we listen to and read in social media….
––in the expressed thoughts of our inner circle of family and friends….
––in the billboards on our roads….
––in the signs on our office bulletin boards….
––in the values that are assumed by our general society…. voices.

We often have voices ricocheting within our own heads. These voices often accuse us. They can make us feel conflicted with one voice saying yes and another saying no, and both at the same time.

Which voice gets our attention? Which voice gets our assent? How do we know which voice to trust? How do we know which voice is right?

Some say go with one’s feelings––that if if it feels right it must be right. That doesn’t work so well. We live in varied social settings and not everyone “feels” the same way about everything. Whose feelings get affirmed and whose feelings get squelched? On what basis? What standard of discernment and judgment?

Some say, okay, we’ll listen to what the majority thinks. But to be honest, think how many times throughout history the majority has been wrong!

Differing a bit from “majority” is “popular.” Here we might consider the numerous entertainers (actors, musicians, and sports figures) who think that their notoriety gives them the right to speak to issues for which they are unqualified to speak. Would you want a crucial interpretation about your medical exam from a pop-musician or someone whose only claim to fame is her good looks that landed her a talkshow spot? Yet those people get a platform when they speak about crucial moral issues of our day––and only because they are popular for something that matters very little!

One other voice that can compel us is the one that suggests ease and comfort. This likely is the one that undergirds all the others. It is so easy for us to listen to voices that demand little of us. Then we are free to go our way…. but the desire to go our own way is a spiritual cancer.

Here is my point: in contrast to all that is popular and easy, we need to take the time and effort to listen to God. In the first reading, God’s people had listened to wrong voices for so long that they had been conquered, taken away from their land for seventy years, and were now back in their land looking at desolation and a total rebuilding project. A copy of the Scripture had been found and it was read publicly––from daybreak till midday…. read[ing] plainly from the book of the law of God, [and] interpreting it…. and all the people listened attentively.

They had learned that the many and varied voices from the past had not given what they promised, had not made life easier and happier, and had, in fact, caused them to lose touch with God. Now they were ready to hear the Word of God.

This lesson has to be relearned again and again. This past week there has been a chorus of voices  starting and spreading from New York which are distorted, awful, and even evil. These voices have legally approved, attempted to justify, and actually exulted in the act of killing a human child up to the moment just before birth. There is social pressure to go along with what is presented as popular opinion. It is the easy route to put it out of our minds and let it go with passive resignation. Can we hear the voice of God through the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they were no more (Matt 2:18)?

God so wants his people to hear his voice that the Son of God himself came into our world so we could listen to the voice of God. In today’s Gospel, He stood up to read….where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings….

Today we still have a reading of the Scriptures before the congregation. The Church is the inheritor and the “conduit” of the Word of God. When we hear Scripture being read, we are hearing the voice of God. When we hear Scripture being preached faithfully, we are hearing an extension of the Apostolic Faith that has gone throughout the world changing lives and giving hope––Luke says his witness is so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings. We are part of that right now, because the Voice of God is among us.

Which voice are you really listening to?

No comments:

Site Meter