Maronite Rite Sunday of the Renewal of the Church at St George Maronite Church in Uniontown, PA

Sunday of the Renewal of the Church   Saint George Maronite Catholic Church in Uniontown, PA

November 8, 2015   John 10, 22-42

A man decided his wife was getting hard of hearing. So he called her doctor to make an appointment to have her hearing checked. The doctor said he could see her in two weeks, but meanwhile there was a simple, informal test the husband could do to give the doctor some idea of the dimensions of the problem.

“Here’s what you do,” he said. “Stand about 40 feet away from her, and speak in a normal conversational tone and see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a response.”

That evening his wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and he’s in the living room, and he says to himself, “I’m about 40 feet away, let’s see what happens.”

“Honey, what’s for supper?” No response.

So he moves to the other end of the room, about 30 feet away.

“Honey, what’s for supper?” No response.

So he moves into the dining room, about 20 feet away. “Honey, what’s for supper?” No response.

On to the kitchen door, only 10 feet away. “Honey, what’s for supper?” No response.

So he walks right up behind her. “Honey, what’s for supper?”

She turns around and says, “For the FIFTH time, CHICKEN!!!!”

We laugh because this is sometimes how it is in our lives. We are either deaf to what is really going on, or we think it is the other person’s problem when really it is our own. Sometimes, we have selective hearing, and we hear what we only want to hear. This text today is all about listening and hearing – following the voice of Jesus.

Sounds easy, but in this world today, we hear a lot of voices. There are voices out there telling us who we are, what we should want, what you should be. There are voices telling us to do this, don’t do that. You’re too fat. You’re too skinny. You’ll never amount to much. You’re a sinner. You don’t measure up. You are crazy. Take these drugs. You are wrong. There are voices telling us to believe this, buy this, drive that, wear this, go there, do your homework now (always follow that voice!). There are voices on Fox News and MSNBC? Which describes reality? Who is telling the truth: Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, James Brady, the NRA, John Boehner, or Nancy Pelosi? It is too much, and it is no surprise that we turn it all off.

The essential question of faith is “Whose voice are you listening to, what voice do you hear, and what voice do you trust?” The faith task is to hone in, lean towards to the source, the authentic Divine voice and listen intently and then to act on what you hear. Saint Benedict advises his monks to listen with the ears of the heart. A heart grounded in fear is going to shape your hearing and your living. A heart grounded in suspicion is going make you skeptical of what you hear and it will shape your outlook with the ugliness of cynicism. This is a great danger for us now when so many voices sound so angry and are filled with fear. The fear sews the seeds of doubt and distrust creating a nasty and polluted environment that is self-serving and protective. Without the voice of Jesus in the midst of this din, we will go deaf to the sound of his promise and his presence.

We are the church, a community with a common desire to listen and follow Christ. That is the most important thing. For us, no other voice takes precedence. What we hear in this holy place in the reading of the Word, the singing of the hymns, the holy silences that are so rich is one powerful and healing message. We are loved. You don’t have to know the one who speaking. Your heart must interpret the message. Hear the voice of love and move toward it. In a dog-eat-dog world of competition and anger, we move through the valley of shadow with the words of love in our ear and the banner of love around our shoulders.

Hear the voice of hospitality and know that you are welcome here. You do not have to have your theological stuff together. You are welcome now, and so is everyone else. We will get ourselves together in time as we decide to stay together.

Hear the voice of generosity. It is the voice of God who has given us so much and asked so little except that we imitate this divine giving with joy and laughter.

Hear the voice of justice and compassion. It is often the cry of the homeless and the hungry, of the immigrant, and those who flee violence and oppression.

This is the voice of creation: this voice of love, hospitality, generosity, justice and compassion. This is the voice that renews the Church this Sunday. It is the voice that will renew each of us in the Spirit of Saint Maron, Saint Rafca, Saint Sharbel, and all their companion in whose footsteps we walk today with laughter and with joy and in always in peace.

Father Tom Boyer