Can we ask ourselves, am I a good listener or do I barely hear the other, concentrating
more on what I am going to say? How do I receive the Word of God? I may ‘hear’ it, but have I
understood it? Are there things in my life preventing me from being fertile ground for the
Word to bear fruit, so I may have the spirit of courage and love?
Joan Chittister writes, “It is holy friendship that shows us the way out of our own inner
imprisonment, that helps us, sees us through our insecurities and brings us love and stability.”
God always hears our cries for help, He shares in our pain and sadness, and He gives us the
grace to endure and move forward despite trials. As caretakers, we pray for the grace of
perseverance and endurance, looking to the Lord, one moment at a time.
Nearly fifty years ago, I took a course to become a catechist and Sister Maureen said, for
homework, go home and read the letter of James. Though Catholic educated, one was not
encouraged to read the Bible in those days, and this became my beginning experience with the
word of God. The first verse I read was, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you
encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
(James 1:2-3.) My first thoughts were, “Yeah, right, joy with suffering, how can that be?”
However, enlightenment and God’s love carried me to greater understanding and freedom. I
discovered that Scripture was God’s love letter to us and have been blessed to share that with
others for many years.
James, a small book of five chapters, is a practical letter about the Christian life,
reminding us to have a positive attitude to the difficulties of life, not to blame God when things
go wrong, to know where to turn for help and encourages us to have control of our temper.
Chapter three talks of the power of the tongue and honestly in those days my tongue needed
The more attentive we are to hearing the Lord call us by name, the likelier it will be that
we hear and see Him in others. Sometimes we hear in silence, in joy, in laughter and even in the
voice of a loved one who says our name. Perhaps for Advent (begins Sunday, November 27 th )
we might strive to become self-aware of how we ‘listen.’ My experience with the Lord is that
God will lead us to what makes us freest. We need to constantly discern what God is calling us
to. Pay attention to what is going on when in our prayer space. Identify unfreedoms and ask
God for light from any obstacles or resistances.
We gain wisdom from St. Teresa of Avila, “Self-knowledge is a critical key growth in the
Spirit. Find self where God is.” Let us reflect: Are the inner experiences I am having moving me
away or toward God?