IV Sunday of Easter
12 May 2019
I’m sure that many of us have had the experience of walking into some task or situation or job expecting that it will be a huge success only to have the entire thing go completely wrong! Welcome to my golf game! I always think I’m a better golfer than I actually am! Sometimes we go into these situations with false expectations – whether we place those on ourselves or others.
Perhaps this is the problem the Jewish leaders have first with Jesus and then with the Apostle … false expectations. They think the Messiah is supposed to act a certain way, present himself in a certain way, come from a certain place. But the fact remains … Jesus is who He is … not quite the man they were expecting. So what happens? They rejected Him. They tortured Him. They killed Him… but He rose from the dead and now has given the Apostles His own authority to teach and preach, baptize and confirm, celebrate the Eucharist … in other words, as Jesus gathered people to Himself so now they are bringing people to Him in great numbers. But here’s the kicker… they are preaching to people who are listening … the Gentile nation, the pagans, the non-Jews of the time. They’re listening … And their being converted … they are being changed.
In many ways, we are not unlike the Jewish leaders in the era of Jesus and the Apostles. We place our own false expectations on God … We want Him to act a certain way; respond to our needs a certain way … and when He doesn’t – it feels like He isn’t listening or that He doesn’t care or that He is not paying attention. And that hurts and it drives people away. But what are we trying to accomplish when we expect God to act a certain way … Are we trying to change Him … that’s not going to happen! Are we trying to change other people? Usually that doesn’t go over well either … who are we trying to change?
To listen means to ‘pay attention’ but it is so much more than that … listening requires being present to another, a certain docility where we don’t just comprehend the words of another person but we comprehend … we identify with that person. The Gentiles were listening not just to Apostles but to the Word of God and as such to God … they were connecting, understanding, listening to God … and it changed them and their way of life – for the better. Its not that God doesn’t listen to us, its not that He isn’t paying attention … He fixes Himself on us, He loves us and knows our needs … Maybe we need to do a bit more listening in our own lives … I can’t tell you what the voice of God sounds like … maybe it sounds like your conscience – which often sounds like my mother! Maybe the voice of God is found in the voice of a friend, or in a homily, or an inner intuition. That which is important is that we stop projecting on to God how we want Him to act, or how we want Him to cater to our needs – these are false expectations … the important thing is to listen to Him, to be present to Him … to comprehend His Word so as to identify with Him… and that one thing we can expect is that He changes us.