Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Matthew 12:30) For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:50)
How can we know the “will” of the Father? How can we know we “gather” with Jesus? We can know if we listen. We have become disconnected from the present. We have become preoccupied with ourselves and disconnected from one another, and from God. How can we be prayerful or pursue anything resembling spirituality if we are so over-booked we have no time for the reality of the present moment. And, if we are disconnected, what of our children? They pattern their lives on how they presume our lives are led. From babyhood they have learned from what we say and what we do. And, while they might seem to be rebelling, finding their own identity, they are still patterning how to be an adult by watching us.
Genuine listening requires the virtue of patience and the ability to slow down the rush of our thoughts so we can give full attention to the Other. Giving full attention is a form or love, a source of happiness, a type of prayer. It requires what Jesus emphasized in the first beatitude: poverty of spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” reveals that emptying ourselves of ego by putting our own needs aside is the essence of love.
We listen best to those we know, and we get to know them by listening to them. So, if we want to understand His “will,” then we will listen to Him as we pray. Jesus responded to a question about why he spoke in parables by saying many people “look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.” More than once Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” Just as we listen to our friends, and don’t try to manage the conversation to support our ego, we should listen as God speaks to us. We hear the voice of God that comes as a wordless invitation to be in his presence. Jesus said, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.”
Do our children see us go to our special spot to read the Bible, or Catechism? Some secrets, like our prayer life should not be hidden from our children. If all they see is the morning effort to get everyone ready for Mass on Sunday, they won’t be anxious to join us. But if they see us in a prayerful attitude, and if we discuss with them the joy we feel in receiving the Eucharist, and that despite the “morning effort” we would not miss the chance for Mass, then they too will find joy and peace in that hour in the presence of God. kvs