The Divine Dialogue of God with the Soul
Weekly Reflection by Mother Marie Julie, SCMC
My Dear Good People,
In the Gospel reading for Holy Mass this weekend, Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus is driving home a point for the people who are listening to Him with hostility. I would like to reflect on this and make an observation that has helped me many times in my life.
Jesus speaks of a father who asks his two sons to go to work in his vineyard. One son says no, he will not, but then later decides to go. The second son dutifully, respectfully, replies that he will go, but never shows up at all. Jesus is here speaking about those who, as they say today, talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. The message is clear.
I’m thinking of the times when we find ourselves in a place where we have not listened to our conscience, and later wondered where we went wrong. We know we were being nudged to do the right thing, but we didn’t do it. That’s the human condition, the result of original sin. Or, conversely, before we actually do commit the sin, we wrestle with ourselves and finally choose what is right. That’s Grace. That is the Voice of the Holy Spirit, and that’s our soul answering His invitation to do the more perfect thing. Why do we too often fail in this spiritual tug-of-war?
It comes down to becoming familiar with the Voice that leads us to truth, discerning it from the voice of the evil one who always wants to lead us to sin. How do we become familiar with the Spirit’s manner of speaking? By taking time each day, just a few minutes out of our busy day, to sit quietly and allow the Spirit to speak in our hearts. Sometimes we will actually hear Him, sometimes we won’t. But make no mistake about it: the Holy Spirit will never allow one of us to come to pray without meeting us in that moment, enabling us to become familiar with Him, even in the noise of confusion or doubt.
As with any relationship, this takes time. The more we listen for His Voice in our hearts, the more accustomed we will become to recognize Him when He speaks to us, urging us in times of temptation to do the loving thing.
Having said that, sometimes it takes time for Grace to have its way in us. We won’t always, even after years of living a prayerful life, make the right choice immediately. Thus the struggle, and thus the possibility of victory or loss in the spiritual warfare that surrounds us. And if that happens in us, it can also happen in others, can’t it? That means when we’re hoping to help someone else live a good life right now, or trying to raise a child to live a holy life at age twelve, or expect someone to accept an apology as soon as it’s offered, perhaps we’re not being realistic in our expectations. Grace is a fragile gift. I’ve seen it many times: after waiting and waiting, suddenly, or gradually the person with whom I’ve been working comes to recognize not my voice, but the Voice of our loving God, and makes the difficult choice to do the right thing. That’s walking the walk. I should be much more forgiving when I see someone make bad choices. Maybe s/he will have a change of heart and become the person s/he was destined to be. Or maybe the one who has offended me will eventually come back to be reconciled. Or a child who seems to have been lost, as we spoke of last week, will come to Life. God waits for us so mercifully. Should we do less with others?
Jesus, please help me to learn to listen to the Voice of Your Holy Spirit, and to be patient when others can’t seem to do so right away. Let me always remember that Grace has its own hour. For that, I thank You.
May you have peace.
In the love of Jesus,
Mother Marie Julie
and the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady,
Mother of the Church