The problems of our era are not political, no matter what you may hear. The problems of our era are spiritual. I recently read these words of the great Patrick Henry: “It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.” In addition to us as individual, our communities and country need spiritual renewal and revival. One of the ways to initiate this spiritual renewal is to consider and evaluate the voices we listen to and which influence us. On the day I am writing this, I heard that Americans, on average, listen to two hours worth of news every day. Regardless of political persuasion, those voices will not help us.
In our first reading last Sunday, we heard the account of God calling Samuel by name. Initially, Samuel did not recognize God's voice. Only with Eli's help does Samuel come to know the voice of God and respond with openness: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” In order for us to engage in spiritual renewal, we need to come to know the voice of God. We may perceive this as a tall task, as we are often barraged and bombarded by a cacophony of various voices. How do we know we are hearing God's voice? It does begin with allowing for times of serious silence in our lives.
Pope Francis has designated this 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time as Sunday of the Word of God. God speaks to us through Sacred Scripture. Reading and reflecting upon the Word of God in the Bible helps us to better hear and recognize God's voice. Again, this may seem like a daunting task, so I would like to share some resources about Scripture:
Fr. Mike Schmitz is leading a Bible in a Year study for 2021. Yes, by the time you read this, you may be a little behind, but it is possible to catch up. Episodes are everyday and are 20-25 minutes, involving Fr. Mike reading 2-3 chapters of the Bible, along with a brief reflection. You can find this however you may access podcasts, or you can go to ascensionpress.com/bibleinayear to learn more and to enter into the adventure of going through the Bible in 2021.
Last Christmas (2019), our parish gave away the book Bible Basics for Catholics by John Bergsma. If you still have a copy, I recommend you going back and reading this book. It primarily focuses on the Old Testament, which is often where we need the most help in the Bible. The Old Testament also sets the scene for us to better understand the New Testament. John Bergsma authored another book I recommend: New Testament Basics for Catholics. Both of these books are simple and easy to read and understand, yet very profound. I highly recommend both of these books to help better read and know Sacred Scripture.
Two last items: I believe He is telling us, “For the Browns, there is always next year.” It was quite the year for the Browns, and while the the loss to the Chiefs was devastating, it was nice to be able to enjoy 11 wins in the regular season and a playoff victory! There are reasons for optimism for next season. Lastly, January 24 is typically the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of shopping!
We are saints under construction, listening to the voice of God and responding like Samuel, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Have a great week!