Hearing God Where We Are Now
15th Sunday Ordinary Time
July 10, 2022
“For this commandment which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it so that we might carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea …. No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
Deuteronomy 30:10-14 (1st reading at Mass)
When I was discerning the priesthood, I used my airline travel benefits to fly all over the country for retreats at various religious institutes and monasteries in an attempt to hear God speaking to me, and this went on for a number of years. One day, having flown into Massachusetts on yet another vocation discernment visit, I called my father in Los Angeles (who was an agnostic and not a particularly good source of spiritual advice). He asked me, “So where are you this time?” When he heard I was on the east coast again he said, “So tell me, why do you have to fly 3000 miles to find the will of God?” Well, that comment really opened my eyes. In fact, in the end I actually did end up finding my vocation nearby--in the parish church across the street from my house. The Lord’s will can be discerned right where we are, right now. We don’t have to go long distances to discover his will--we can hear him in the Scriptures, in church teaching, and in our lives.
God seldom asks extraordinary things of us. If that were so, very few of us would ever get into heaven or become the saints we were born to become. St. Theresa of Lisieux, in her autobiography The Story of a Soul, relates that at the beginning of her spiritual life she was put off by stories of the rigorous penances and austerities some of the saints went through. She decided to ask God to show her an “elevator” to live a life pleasing to God.
What is that elevator? We show our love for God by simply doing as well as possible the tasks we are obliged to do each day. We do not need to seek God by striking out on long and arduous searches, climbing the heavens on our own or getting a doctorate in theology! God’s will for us is expressed in the circumstances we now live in, the people in our lives, the situations in which we find ourselves. The present moment is the only place where we can actually show God that we really love him; by showing love to the person we meet in the here and now; by being faithful to God in this concrete situation right here.
Actually, everything we need is in the Scriptures, in our church as Catholics and by making use of the opportunities presented to us each day by the people we live, work and go to school with, however flawed they or we might be. He is in our mouths in the prayers we say at Mass and in our hearts when we get home: our task in life is to carry out the will of God as it is expressed in the present moment where all grace resides.