Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(1 Kings 19:9,11-13; Psalm 85:9-14; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-23)
Learning to Listen to God’s Voice
The Lord was not in the earthquake. (1 Kings 19:11)
How often have you seen a movie where God appears amidst lightning bolts and angelic choirs and then speaks in a terrifying, booming voice? Images like these are so common that we may think that this is how God normally speaks. Add to that all the biblical stories where God intervenes on an even larger scale, and we come away thinking that’s the only way we’ll ever hear the Lord. After all, very few of us are in the habit of being interrupted by a deafening voice or a lightning bolt from on high!
That’s why today’s first reading is such a blessing. It tells us that God doesn’t always thunder from the heavens. Sometimes—quite often, in fact—his voice comes in a “tiny whispering sound” (1 Kings 19:12).
Why would the Creator of the universe talk so softly? Maybe because he wants to teach us how to listen, just as he taught Elijah. Maybe because he wants a relationship with us—just as he had with Elijah—rather than have us live in fear of his showing up.
The fact that we aren’t always being overwhelmed doesn’t mean that God is avoiding us. Quite the opposite, in fact. He’s always speaking! He loves to guide our thoughts and our steps. He loves to open our hearts to his truths and heal us of our hurts. No, God speaks softly and intimately so that we will take the time to slow down. He wants us to learn how to quiet our racing minds so that we can focus on him and his word.
God doesn’t want to overwhelm our eyes and ears every time he has something to say. For one thing, that would get awfully exhausting! But even more important, he wants us to see him as our loving Father, not as a frightening deity. Like any other father, he wants to spend time with us so that we can learn his ways and receive his wisdom.
So sit quietly today. Breathe deeply. And listen.
“Father, help me to still my heart so that I can hear your voice.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, Elijah “saw” the Lord in the “tiny whispering sound.” Do you believe that God can speak to you deep within, as you come to him in prayer? Why or why not?
- The Responsorial Psalm also speaks of “seeing” the Lord’s kindness and “hearing” what God proclaims. Has there ever been a time when you felt you heard from God during a time of prayer? What was the result?
- In the second reading, St. Paul expresses his great desire for the salvation of the Jewish people, even to the point of being willing to be “cut off from Christ for the sake of my people.” He then goes on to explain all that we Christians have inherited from the Jewish people, ending with the fact that from them came Jesus Christ himself. What steps can you take to express your thankfulness for this “inheritance” to some Jewish people you know?
- In the Gospel, Jesus speaks these words to his terrified disciples, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Do you believe that Jesus wants to speak these same words to you as well? What are the obstacles that can keep you from hearing these words and how can you overcome them?
- The meditation speaks of the different ways God can speak to us. What are some of the ways God speaks to you?
- The meditation also tells us that God “wants us to see him as our loving Father, not as a frightening deity. Like any other father, he wants to spend time with us so that we can learn his ways and receive his wisdom.” What are the obstacles that keep you from seeing God as your “loving Father” who wants to “spend time with us so that we can learn his ways and receive his wisdom”? What steps can you take to overcome them?
- Nowhere does God speak more passionately to us than during Mass. We can actually hear his still, small voice as we worship him with all of our brothers and sisters in the faith? What steps can you take before and during Mass to make this a greater reality in our life?
- Take some time now to pray and ask your heavenly Father to open your heart and mind to hear his voice. Use the prayer at the end of the mediation as the starting point.