How do you hear God’s voice? That probably sounds like a stupid question, but I think that it is an important one. I’ve always loved the story of Elijah fleeing from the wrath of the Samaritans Ahab and Jezebel in First Kings. He gets to a cave and goes inside to be safe. God asks him what he is doing there. He answers him and then listens for God’s voice to tell him what to do. Elijah listens and listens. There is a strong wind, but God is not in the wind; then there is fire, but God is not in the fire. Elijah then experiences an earthquake, but God is not in the earthquake. Then he hears what is called a “still, small voice.” I think that is often how we hear the voice of God in our own lives. Just a whisper, or sometimes a voice in our dreams. For me, God’s voice sometimes comes to me through other people. A friend will say something to me that is so profound and insightful that I know that I must listen to what they are saying.
God’s voice is usually directing me toward something that is wrong in this world; to take care of people who are in some kind of distress or cast out of our society in some way. It sometimes amazes me that I haven’t seen this myself, but then, God is our creator and our overseer who has all of this world in sight and cares deeply about all of us. God’s perfect love extends to each and every one of us. We are all capable and called to be God’s servants and to do what needs to be done. God’s prophets did this. Amos went into the North and chastised the rich people there for selling the poor for silver and treating the needy like a crop to be reaped for their own benefit. God looking out for the poor is a constant theme in scripture.
There is nothing new here. Our political system still tries as hard as it can to reward the rich and tax the poor. The current republican health care bill is being created behind closed doors in the senate so as not to attract detrimental comments. They are not asking for any help by the democrats because they know that this will only bring criticism. The problem here is that the bill is an attempt to eliminate coverage for many poor people and to enable people with means to have even more. We as disciples of Jesus Christ are called by God to keep this kind of thing from happening and to make sure that those who have nothing can benefit from our common purse.
I have been a priest for over forty years and I know how the church can consume itself with non-essential trivia. People in some congregations and dioceses are great at blaming one another for the things that inevitably go wrong. What we all need to be doing is caring for each other and making sure that all is well in the lives of those who aren’t as well off as the rest of us. When we do that, we are hearing God’s quiet voice urging us on. But there are other congregations that focus on outreach – on taking care of the need that exists all around us. These are the places where God is working in this world and his disciples are those people in those parishes who listen for the word and follow where it leads them.
We all get very tired of listening to the news reports of what is going on in the political life of this country. It all sounds like blame and excuse and people always trying to show themselves in the best possible light. What is lost in all of this is the constant presence of need and pain in this world. The people begging in our streets, at our bridges and intersections trying to get some contributions that will help their lives don’t particularly care about the politics. They don’t even vote, mostly. They simply are trying to find ways of getting through their day. Those of us who are politically involved sometimes miss the point when we spend so much time with our political striving that we miss the obvious times to simply give of ourselves to help those who are obviously poor.