A LOADED QUESTION:
DID YOU EVER HEAR
THE VOICE OF GOD?
The title of my homily for this 18th Friday in Ordinary Time is, “Did You Ever Hear the Voice of God?”
LAST NIGHT - REPUBLICAN DEBATE
Last night on the second and main Republican “Debate”, Megan Kelly read a question from someone who sent a face book question that went something like this: “Does anyone of you ever hear the voice of God?”
That was the text question someone sent in. I heard it and wondered about the context. Question is: we don’t know why and what the questioner had in mind. Was he trying to trap, trick or whatever each candidate?
It hit me: “This is a loaded question!”
I immediately thought of the old saying. “If we talk to God, it’s called prayer. If we hear God talking to us, it’s called mental sickness.”
Translation: sometimes people with mental problems hear God telling them to do things - like shoot people or kill themselves.
Don’t we hear that in some of the horror stories of suicide bombings or terrorism around our world?
TODAY’S FIRST READING
I watched the 2 hour debates last night - and that was one of the main things that stood out.
So I listened carefully to how the candidates answered that question.
Ted Cruz or someone said he reads the Bible every morning - and that gives him the word of God for that day.
Nobody fell into the possible trap - of saying “Yes I hear God speaking to me every day.” That would appear in columns and if you’re against someone that’s a hand grenade of a statement.
If I remember correctly, others said they pray. Others said the general statement that God is calling all people to goodness and love, etc.
Then I read today’s readings before going to bed and there were the statements about hearing God speaking.
For example: “Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?”
For example: “Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you; on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard him speaking out of the fire.”
This last statement touches on some people’s response to thunder and lightning, hurricane and tornado - earth quakes, volcanoes, forest fires - as God’s way of showing his anger. Didn’t someone say that Hurricane Katrina was God saying, “I don’t like what is happening in New Orleans.”
If one takes that approach, then we might say that some place like Dushore, Pennsylvania or Leipsic, Ohio has everything going right because nothing bad has happened there lately.
In today’s first reading we also have the message that God speaks to us in the experiences of our lives.
Many people bring to prayer their life experiences - especially the experience of looking back. Based on all that has happened to me, I see how blessed I am. Thank you God. But sometimes this takes time to see a whole pattern in one’s life.
But then, does that mean God zaps people in unhappy marriages or disastrous experiences with their kids or what have you?
Todays’ first reading then moves us into God’s commandments as ways of knowing what God wants.
SCULPTOR OR PAINTER
At times I like to imagine how I would sculpt or paint God when it comes to different scenes of life with God.
At times I’ve thought: if I were to sculpt God, I would leave out his mouth or picture him with finger to lip - saying, “Silence!”
We know our side of communication with God.
For many prayer is saying prayers.
For many prayer is talking to God.
For many prayer is listening to God - but the trouble with this - once more - is that God is so often silent.
Thomas Green, the Jesuit spiritual writer, said, “Say to God, you got 5 minutes. I’m going to sit here for 5 minutes and wait for you to tell me what’s what with us.”
Sometimes that works. We “hear” God say, “I am with you.” Or “I love you.” Or “You have my support and care.”
But often it’s silent and folks often say, “Boring.”
Then turn to the scriptures - read - and talk to God - about what you’re reading.
Or say a closing prayer and say, “I got work to do.”
Or say to God, “This is a loaded question: What are you saying to me?”