Archive for May 17th, 2019

Acts 24: Listening to the Voice Within

Friday, May 17, 2019

Paul Before Felix

As we journey with Paul we find that he overcomes huge obstacles by relying on God.  Today and tomorrow we spend some time reflecting on what we might learn about ourselves when we quiet our minds and hearts to listen to God’s voice within.  Written on February 28, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

The charges against Paul are connived and false.  The people who hate him collude to find a means to his end.  They want to silence him.  They want him to go away.  The best charge which they can hang on him is like the one which spelled Jesus’ doom: the charge of treason against Caesar, the charge that he is trying to establish another kingdom . . . and in this his accusers are correct. This is the paradox of the Gospel and Letters.  This is the redeeming grace of the New Testament story.  We are saved by Jesus and these early apostles and disciples, men and women who saw, understood, and would not be swayed.  They stood up to power, to structure, to corruption, to anything that was anti-Jesus.  They were affirmed in these convictions by the Resurrected Christ, and so are we today.

The readings today for Morning Prayer and Mass are about our human tendency to be stiff-necked and thick-brained.  How can we say we are for Jesus when we act against him?  The readings are also about knowing how to live . . . by listening to the Voice Within.

This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God.  (The Prophet Jeremiah in Chapter 7)

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.  (The Holy Spirit in Psalm 95)

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.  (Jesus in Matthew Chapter 11)

Children stop their ears to keep from hearing bad news: an angry parent, an unwelcome order, an unpleasant prohibition.  As adults, we sometimes stop the ears of our heart to keep from hearing God’s voice, lest there too we hear bad news, only to discover that we have shut out the good news of his incredible love for us.  (MAGNIFICAT, Feb 2008, page 390.)

The mystery of God’s voice is that we hear and understand God best through the diverse voices of Yahweh’s people.  When we are open to the diverse others whom God created, we develop our capacity to hear the inner voice, the Voice Within.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live in unity!  (Psalm 133:1)  Unity is the work of God, wrought in Jesus Christ.  Division is the work of evil.  During Lent, let us examine our own contributions to the unity that gives peace or the division that sows suffering in the world around us.  (MAGNIFICAT, page 397.)

The temptation to turn ourselves into gods . . . presupposes that we perceive God essentially as a power capable of coercing us by crushing our autonomy.  (Fr. Maurice Zundel, MAGNIFICAT Feb 2008 Meditation, page 396.)

Today we read about Paul and Felix, two players in God’s plan as the church of Christ beings to flourish.  We see power that wishes to crush.  We also see power that hesitates . . . because hearts are softened when they listen to the Voice Within.  In today’s reading, we also see opportunities seized . . . and opportunities left to drift in passive aggression.  We see captivity.  We see freedom.  As we read this story today, we might well find our own place in the drama.  Are we Paul?  Are we Felix?  Are we Ananais?  Are we Drusilla?  Are we Porcius Festus?  Do we go to God in union with others?  Do we create division either by an overt act of commission . . . or a covert act of omission?  Do we join?  Do we bridge?  Do we unite?  Do we give?  Do we love?

Let us spend a bit time this evening to reflect on these questions . . . and to listen for the Voice Within.

A re-post from May 2, 2012.

Image from: http://crystalmarylindsey.blogspot.com/2011/12/do-you-see-world-with-eye-blinders.html

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 28 February 2008: 396-397. Print.

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