Listening with the Ears of Your Heart

A reflection by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

“Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)

We read in Genesis 17:3 that when Abram (before he was renamed Abraham) prostrated himself before the Lord, God spoke to him.  When he was in a position of humility, he was able to hear the Lord.  Our position before God really matters.  How we are before Him determines how we are able to hear Him.  And it’s not just to hear all the bad things we’re doing.  In the instance of Abraham, God is promising him generations: “I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact” (Genesis 17:7).  He didn’t even have kids yet, and he wasn’t young either!  And yet God tells him that He will make him fruitful.  God can do anything with us if we are humble.  We need to listen to God to recognize our faults, but also to hear His blessings.  God has wonderful things to say; He desires to build us up, not tear us down.  He says, “There is so much in you…so much good…and you need to hear it.”  It’s so important to be on your knees to hear the good things, because that will enable you to be fully who you are.  It only takes a twinkling of the eye for all things to change.  Be aware of how good it is to hear the whole of what God has to say.

You really can’t run away from the Spirit of God.  If He wants to tell you something, He can use any instrument He wants to get through to you.  You can try to ignore them all, but still another will show up.  So it’s better to face the truth head on and just try to listen rather than keep running.  Sometimes the word God has for us may be painful or ask more than we think we can give, but we have to be willing to trust Him that He will provide everything we need to do what is being asked of us.  Listen, listen with the ears of your heart. 

A Lesson from King David

“He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant”

Luke 1:69

A reflection on the King David of the Old Testament by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

David could be a really controversial character because of some of the things he did in his life. He had a sword…and he wasn’t afraid to use it. God even told him that he couldn’t build His temple because he had too much blood on his hands. And then there’s the whole episode with Bathsheba—committing adultery and then murder to cover up his crime. But there’s one thing about David that keeps drawing the heart of the Lord, and that’s his humility. David is a humble man, and he acknowledges his wrongdoings. When he is corrected, he does not try to defend himself. We never hear of him coming back to God and saying, “Well let me explain myself!”. Never. He always takes total blame, begging God to blame himself, the shepherd, and not his sheep. He is so honest and generous in that way; and God looks upon that and seems to forget everything else.

I also love David because of his prayer. I think it must have taken him even more courage to pray after getting into so much trouble. He keeps going back to God, without any sense that he should do otherwise. We can learn something from that. David, even after the crimes he committed, continues to sing the psalms, to play on his harp, and he continues to love. He accepts who he is; he doesn’t try to weasel out of what he’s done. Perhaps by accepting his shortcomings, he calls upon God to love him more, because he acknowledges that he needs Him more. We should do the same.

You can think about that this Lent. It is a good practice to simply say nothing when corrected for a fault, but humbly acknowledge it and turn to the Lord for His mercy. I think St. Benedict strove for that too, that pure heart, to be of the house of David.

Bowing for the Doxology during the Divine Office

“We ponder, O God, your mercy

within your temple”

Psalm 48:10