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“Listen Up!” by Andrew Scala, Fiat Ventures

“Listen Up!” by Andrew Scala, Fiat Ventures

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Listening is hard. This past Friday marked the end of the year in the school district in which I teach. While my kids are amazing, it feels like a lot of time is spent on getting them to actually hear what I’m saying. Reflecting on this year, I find that the old adage proved especially true: It’s easy to hear, but harder to listen.

In this weekend’s Gospel of Luke, we are introduced to the beginning of the story of the one who prepared the way for Jesus: John the Baptist. I have always readily accepted John the Baptist for the important Biblical figure that he was. But admittedly, I’ve never bothered to search much deeper. And how miraculous his story truly is! It became apparent that his existence was truly divine providence, as he was born to a woman named Elizabeth who was described as “barren”. When the time came to name him, Elizabeth answered that his name would not be his father’s, nor would he even be named after a member of his family. Instead, he would be named John, as instructed by the Angel Gabriel.

What I find most interesting about John’s story is actually the experience of his father, Zechariah. The angel announced to him that Elizabeth would bear a son, but he doubted. He didn’t trust that God could pull this off! When I imagine this scene, Zechariah goes through a whole laundry list with the angel of all the reasons there’s no way this is possible.  So to give him a healthy dose of humility, the angel made Zechariah unable to speak.  He had to communicate by writing on a tablet.

Upon naming John, he received his ability to speak again, and began praising God. I think I relate most to his experience in the story, because so often I can’t hear God’s voice because I can’t stop talking and asking questions, or laying out my own plan for God to rubber stamp.  Sometimes I need to stop and just listen for his voice.

We have so much noise in our lives; music, shows, our phones, the news, and countless other audible influences. Not only that, but often like Zechariah we create more noise for ourselves because we can’t stop talking. Our spiritual lives require us to hear in the inaudible. If we want to hear God’s voice, we have to be quiet and listen. When we pray, it’s a good thing to tell God all of the things that we need and to pray for the needs of others, but then we need to listen for his response. We usually skip that part! Most of us aren’t going to have an angel show up to tell us what God wants us to do, so we need to learn how to act on what we can’t physically hear, that we only hear in the stillness and quiet of our hearts.

Let’s look to Zechariah and let him set the “tone” for us. Let’s learn to listen to the amazing plans God has for us and the ways he wants to use us. He’s the same God that gave us John the Baptist to pave the way for our savior, Jesus Christ. What good will the world miss out on if we don’t learn to listen to God’s voice?

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