Faith · Religious life · spirituaility

July 31st – Listening with Hope

Scripture Reflection . . .

18th Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1: 2; 2:21-23

Responsorial Psalm 90

Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-5; 9-11

Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

“If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalm 90).

What if these words were the secret to a meaningful, joy-filled life?

Maybe they are.  Let’s consider it.

It’s about listening . . . and then being open to what we hear. Ok, that’s the difficult part and where most of us struggle.

How do we listen and  to what/ who are we listening?

The First Reading, gives voice to what sounds like a very disappointed person.  “For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1).  Perhaps you have had moments of disillusionment and questioning.  Thus we need to listen to ourselves – what is it we are feeling, thinking, acting out of  . . .?  This all tells us something.

In the Gospel, Jesus shares a parable of a rich man who built ever bigger barns to store all his abundant harvest only to learn he will die and all his wealth is for naught.  We are invited to listen to this message and many others found in scripture.

In the Second Reading, St. Paul implores us to seek God – “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3).  St. Paul knew Christ intimately though he never met him in person.  We are invited into this relationship in which we listen to God in our hearts through prayer and reflection.

Now, as we listen ever more deeply, we may hear things we don’t want to hear.  We may be stretched to look beyond our biases, to look beyond what we have always known, to go where we don’t want to go.  However, if we do we will often have an experience of transformation with the promise that we will experience a joy more deeply then we have ever known.  St. Paul invites us, “put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator” (Colossians 3).

But we have to listen with soft pliable hearts, open to receive the word of God.  This requires making space in our lives to practice listening: prayer, turning off what we can, sitting with others a little longer to listen to them . . .

Then maybe we will hear what is really important for a joy-filled, meaningful life.

In Our Lives as Sisters of The Holy Redeemer . . .

This past week we immersed ourselves in a week-long Chapter session.  Chapter is an event in Religious Congregations, thus a special event in the life of the Church, that takes place every 5 years (in our case) for reflecting on our living and looking ahead.  The most important aspect of a Chapter is to listen to the Holy Spirit who speaks through the events in the World, through each Sister present and through personal and communal prayer.

Province photo

We prayed, we viewed the realities of people throughout the world and of Earth itself, we listened to each one’s reflections, and then we prayed some more and shared some more. We released Monarch butterflies as a symbol of transformation and endurance; we wrote inspirations on ribbons to hang around the cross, we celebrated community around table and altar; we were anointed for mission; we cried, we laughed and sometimes we were just speechless

ribbons at cross

monarchbutterfly release


Listening can be exhausting!  And for good reason.  If we really listen – it takes time and attention.

In our listening we came to the following promises:

  • To make space for the sacred by committing to prayer and contemplation as an essential component of our everyday lives.
  • To practice non-violence in all aspects of our lives by choosing never to disregard nor dismiss anyone, no exceptions.
  • To probe the depths of our mission and charism for today’s world to more fully understand and embrace our call to Redemptive Love for all Creation.
  • To choose simplicity of life by sharing what we have and using only what we need to sustain ourselves and our mission in order that the world’s abundant resources may be available to present and future generations.
  • To reverence diversity in all its manifestations, recognizing that unity is made possible by embracing diversity at all levels.
  • To dedicate ourselves to live community more authentically through our daily living of merciful love and forgiveness, which nurtures in us fullness of life.

reading of promises


In Your Life . . .

Perhaps you will find one way to listen more deeply as you enter into this new week, whether it be setting aside time for prayer each day; turning off the TV a little early each night; going without music on the drive to work, calling up a friend just to listen to what’s going on in their life.  What promise will you make?

And in doing so you may find that life is more than toil and anxiety; more than getting up and going to bed; more than one day after another; more than storing up treasure on earth . . .

Blessings on your week!