Does God Listen to our Pleas? Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019
The Book of Sirach reminds us that the Lord will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged … and will not ignore the supplication of the orphan, or the widow when she pours out her complaint. We hear that the prayer of the humble pierces the clouds and will not rest until it reaches its goal and that the Lord does not delay.
Psalm 34 speaks in a similar vein by stating that the Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. These are wonderful words and very comforting, but it is an everyday occurrence for people who plead to God to have a sense of their cries being ignored. Does God really hear my cries? Or, is God choosing to ignore me, basically saying, Go solve your own problems?
Just yesterday, I listened to two women who have heart-breaking situations with children or grandchildren. Both are very committed believers and have poured out their sufferings to God. One spoke of now having questions about her faith. Can I believe in a God who seems deaf to my cries? That is an everyday difficulty for people in our world.
This is not a complete response to that fundamental question posed by many in a suffering world, but there is some comfort that comes from speaking to another about the difficult situations in life. It doesn’t really matter if it is a friend or a spiritual director. The gift that is needed for the suffering person is a listening ear and heart.
The listener can’t just listen with her ears and keep glancing at her watch or give pat, ready-made answers. What is needed is a listener who empathizes and helps the sufferer to know that they are not alone. Miracles have been performed at the kitchen table when two friends sit over mugs of coffee and commiserate.
There is a well-known prayer from St. Teresa of Avila.
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which he looks
Compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
It does not actually state that we are God’s ears, but we can take that for granted.
Fr. John Veltri, a Canadian Jesuit who worked with the Spiritual Exercises for many years, wrote a poem (Teach me to Listen), where the central line is Help me to be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.”