February 6, 2015

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Tune out distractions to listen to God

David SilerI recently came across one of those quotes that can just stop us in our tracks. I have not been able to find a reference to the original author but it reads, “Sometimes I want to ask God why he allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when he could do something about it, but I’m afraid that he might ask me the same question.”

Although initially perhaps a bit startling, this quote contains a great deal of food for thought and reflection. I would suggest that we don’t have to be afraid that God might ask us this question, but in fact God has most assuredly already done so. It is absolutely part of our baptismal call to do something about suffering in our world.

And we don’t have to be afraid, but rather embrace this call. For our faith tells us that it is in the giving that we receive, and Jesus made it perfectly clear that it is in the poor, the suffering and the lost where we will find him. We should actually rejoice and run toward our baptismal call because it is there that we will find life’s greatest joy—and our salvation!

Scripture is replete with references to God’s call for us to serve the poor and vulnerable. However, the call that causes us to respond often comes in the still, small voice of God.

Recall the story of Elijah in First Kings, where God is not found in a strong wind, an earthquake or a fire, but in a gentle blowing breeze. Like Elijah, we have to actually be listening carefully for God speaking to us directly.

Listening quietly for the still, small voice of God is by no means an easy task in today’s world. With television, radio, billboards, computers, smart phones and tablets, finding quietness now takes incredible intention. Distractions have entered into nearly every aspect of our lives. On my way into the office recently, I took note that at least half of the people I passed in traffic were looking down at their cell phones!

I am afraid that the smart phone may be contributing to the greatest spiritual crisis of our time, especially among our young people. Just what if the enemies of God were to embrace a device that would fill every free minute of our time, thus distracting us from the voice of God and keeping us from knowing our own, individual call to serve God?

On the other hand, it is encouraging to see the growing popularity of eucharistic adoration. I believe that this growth is directly tied to our desire to shut out the distractions in order to truly be in relationship with Jesus.

With Lent beginning later this month, how about considering a different kind of fast—a fast from distractions? How about setting aside some personal and family time for absolute quiet? Sure, you might have reason to be afraid of what God might ask, but you will find yourself in the embrace of the very source of love.

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.)

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