Perhaps you can picture the scene – two or three young people at a table in coffee shop or restaurant – all ignoring each other’s company, but there is free WiFi so they are busy texting or playing games or surfing the internet for emails or Facebook alerts or tweets. None of them are in conversation with each other. A similar incident was remarked on by a friend of mine who saw three girls on their respective phones to other people – but not to each other in the present moment. We can all get up in the false and illusory hope that we are missing something – where in fact we are by ignoring the present moment and present company.
I remember walking in to a person’s house a couple of years ago where I was about to say a house Mass – a member of the family was too busy or lazy (but also definitely too rude) to get up and greet me – and he was a grown man – the person they were on-line with so far away was more important than a flesh-and-blood visitor to the house.
All of us have an inner voice – we can’t describe it but all of us can relate to the idea of an inner spokesperson for what is true and right and morally preferable – as well as for what is above all, the truth. The inner promptings of the voice of conscience – that inner voice we might call our good angel on our shoulder – and the call to be more than I am at times of frustration, bewilderment, confusion and restlessness ; the call and the challenge to be stretched – beyond the boredom of so many young people today.
It is difficult however to hear any interior voice over and above the clamouring for attention in the media superhighway - the internet traffic, the email alerts and so on. We are in danger of becoming distracted by technology as well as artificial deadlines to what really matters. But in a world of instant tweets, there is much lack of true communication – and there is no instant button for changing the mood of loneliness depression or sadness.
Even through conversations – do we really take the time to listen to others? Or is it all about me and waiting for others to stop talking so that I can get my spake? People complain to me often how hard they find it to find someone who will really listen to them and engage with them instead of competing with them for attention.
But if we are too busy to listen to each other and end up ignoring each other, where can God enter?
Today therefore is an appeal to listen, to put down the phone or the remote control, to turn off the TV and not just mute it! To stop for a change, and to listen for God’s voice – in the silence, in what the poet Seamus Heaney calls ‘the music of what happens’; to reflect, and to discern what God wants of us now and from this day forward.
What therefore is my vocation?
The voice of conscience – that strange indescribable yet inescapable inner voice - the call to be more than I am - the call and the challenges to be stretched – beyond the boredom of so many young (and not-so-young) people today – the call to do what God wants (as well as what others may want) – the call to follow – the way of the Cross – the way of salvation – and the way to heaven.
All of us are called in particular way to follow and are confused and bewildered by competing voices. If you have ever had the experience of hearing your name being called above other names in a crowd of people – it may in fact be someone else and then you realise in semi disappointment that it is not you who is so popular or wanted, that it is somebody else instead…
But today God is calling each of us by name even in the crowd. We must strain to listen
To sum up
We are called today to make time to listen
1. Firstly, to make time to listen to others
2. Secondly, to listen to the inner voice of conscience in the silence of our hearts
3. Thirdly, to listen to what God might be telling us if we just make the time and effort to switch off competing noise
Jesus says: The sheep that listen to me listen to my voice – and a necessary and crucial step is silence.
Make time for silent prayer today – you might be surprised to what the Lord has been trying to say!