This week I am taking a break from the United States Bishops Conference’s statement Faithful Citizenship. There are still things to share with you from this document, but I want to talk to you today about an Apostolic Letter that Pope Benedict issued called Porta Fidei. In this letter Pope Benedict announces a Year of Faith, beginning on October 11, 2012. The Year of Faith celebrates both the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
At our Summer Gathering in August we had Fr. Jim Healy deliver sessions about the Second Vatican Council, what led up to it and what came from it. Fr. Healy gave an excellent presentation. In September Bishop Finn is asking every parish to have a “Family Prayer Commitment Sunday.” He wants us to promote family prayer.
Prayer is essential to us as Christians and I think this is a good opportunity for us to focus on prayer for this coming year. How do you pray as a family? Is it prayer before meals? Prayer before you go to bed? What is your prayer? Is it memorized prayers like the Our Father and Hail Mary? Do you just talk to God? How do you listen to God? Do you read scripture, go for a walk, reflect on your day?
In today’s Gospel we hear the story of Jesus healing a deaf man who has a speech impediment. He says to the man, “Ephphatha!” – which means, “Be opened!” In her reflection on today’s Gospel Patricia Sanchez comments on the need to not just hear, but to listen.
Listening is not simply hearing but is the single-minded attentiveness of the covenant partners to one another. Thus, to listen means to obey and to accept with great seriousness the will and intention of the other.
At each communal gathering for worship, the call to listen is renewed. The sacred texts are proclaimed and the words are heard. The
presider offers a homily. But unless we also listen – that is, unless we take the word to heart, surrender to the call of the word, are willing to be transformed by the proclaimed word, and desire to respond to the word in faith and in service – then the word has been spoken in vain.
Throughout the centuries, God has used a variety of ways to gain the attention of humankind…a burning bush, a pillar of fire, prophets who sang, cajoled, told stories and performed symbolic actions. Ultimately, God’s greatest attempt to be heard and heeded became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
In our prayer what helps us to listen to God? What gets in the way?
In next week’s bulletin I will be talking more about prayer and the challenge to us during this Year of Faith to make it more a part of our life.