Fr. Britto's Blog

Listen to Him

Every year on the Second Sunday of Lent we hear the same gospel story – the Transfiguration of the Lord. This year we heard the story from Mark’s gospel. Mark, the evangelist, is cryptic and concise in his writing, and as a result, does not give us many details. He says that Jesus was conversing with Moses and Elijah. He does explain what they were talking about. If we look at the parallel passage in Luke we get a clue. Luke’s account says that they were discussing “His exodus from Jerusalem.” What is this exodus? It refers to the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, what we call the Paschal Mystery.

Jesus was revealing His divine identity to His three apostles – Peter, James, and John – in order to strengthen their faith. The Lord knew that the scandal of the Cross would shake their faith in Him. Unfortunately, in spite of Jesus’ generous gesture, the disciples failed Him at the hour of His suffering. One betrayed Him, another denied knowing Him and the others fled. As followers of Jesus, we too have our faith shaken when we meet our crosses. How do we keep our faith firm in the face of tragedy and death? In order to do that, we have to obey the command of the Father: “Listen to Him!”

Listening is far more complex than merely hearing. It involves several processes such as being open, paying attention, understanding, being willing to negotiate and compromise, and being ready to give up my position and accept yours. Listening is not passive but active. It takes effort. Paul Tillich would go so far as to say, “The first duty of love is to listen.” Now the question arises. How do we listen to the Son of God? What is involved in our listening to Him?

Let us take our cue from the example of Abraham, our father in faith. This patriarch always listened to the voice of God. When God asked him to leave his native country and go where God was leading him, he obeyed. God blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son in their old age and they were delighted. Then God issues an unbelievable, unreasonable order: “Sacrifice your son to Me!” Abraham neither questions God nor hesitates. He sets out with his son to God’s holy mountain.

As they are walking up the mountain, Abraham carries the pot of fire and the knife while his son, Isaac, bears a load of firewood on his back. At one point, Isaac turns to his dad and asks, “Father, here is the wood and you have the fire and the knife. Where is the lamb of sacrifice?” Can we imagine the anguish of the father as he attempts to respond? Abraham replies, “God will provide.” He has full confidence in God. He knows that the God Who gave him a son in his old age will not abandon him. He trusts in God completely and therefore he obeys Him unquestioningly. In the same way, we need to trust in the Lord so that we can bow our heads in obedience.

In order to listen to the Son of God, we need first of all to trust in Him. Trust does not come easily to us. Even though we humans know that all the meaningful, wonderful things like love, joy, peace, and happiness do not come to us without trust, we hesitate to give our trust to others. In order to trust someone, we need to take a risk. They can prove to be trustworthy or they can betray our trust. When we look back on our lives, we know that this God has never abandoned us. He has brought us through some challenging times. Our God has a perfect track record. Because He is trustworthy, we can trust Him completely.

Instead of trusting, we often worry. Someone has said, “Worrying is like sitting on a rocking chair. We keep moving but we don’t get anywhere.” By worrying, somehow we think that we are exercising control. Trust calls for losing that control. We are unable to give up our plans because we are somehow convinced that we know better than God. We do not fully believe that God wants the best for us. Certainly, we need to do our part. But we need to leave the rest to God. By letting go of control, we will no longer be anxious. We can certainly heed the call of Victor Hugo who wrote: “Go to sleep, God is awake!”

Once we have learned to trust, obedience will come more easily. We will truly believe that this God has our best interest at heart. He will orchestrate all things for our maximum benefit. Knowing that, we can easily abandon our plans and readily embrace His will.

When we trust Him and obey His will, we will have total peace. In the words of Dante, the Italian Renaissance poet, “His will is our peace.” Christ’s peace is the reward for trusting and obeying Him, for listening to Him.

During this Lent, may we learn to listen to Him. Jesus said, “I know my sheep and my sheep know Me. My sheep listen to my voice.”

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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