Friday, 10 July 2015


A few years ago I had to start using a hearing aid. I was told it would take a few months for my brain to filter out the background noise. So it was! At first the bird-songs were deafening! After a time I hardly noticed them, unless I deliberately wanted to tune into them.
This reminded me of my first going to the W. Indies. There, in the evening, lots of tiny tree frogs, smaller than a fingernail, would whistle so loudly that I could hardly think. But, as with my hearing aid, after a time my brain-filter worked so well that I didn’t notice these little frogs singing their hearts out.
Sometime after I’d returned to England my brother, Peter, sent me a recording of a Carol Service in Barbados. The tape-recorder lacked a sound-filter. The chorus of frogs drowned out the beautiful singing of the choir. At least I’m told it was beautiful, but I must take that on trust, since the tiny frogs didn’t allow me to hear it!
This got me thinking about the way the background, or surrounding noises, in our lives can easily drown out the voice of the Lord. Today we seem to be uncomfortable with silence. Life is so hectic. There’s no time to stop, to listen, to notice. As the poet, W.H. Davies wrote, “What is this life so full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” In our hectic, noisy rush we are missing so much that is good and beautiful.
Even God is being‘ drowned out!’ Shut out! The Book of Revelation describes the Lord saying, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me,” (Rev.3.20). Jesus wants to enter and share our lives, but He won’t force Himself upon us. So He knocks and waits for us to open up to Him and let Him in…if we want to!
That word, “LISTEN” is vital. Jesus respects us too much to thrust Himself upon us, when He’s not wanted. So He knocks and waits. But if there’s too much background noise in our lives we won’t even hear His knocking and He will remain outside.
Could be that’s what we really want! We fear what He has to say will be too uncomfortable and too demanding for us. So we drown out the sound of His knocking. We choose to get on with our lives without Jesus.
The prophet Amos makes this dire prediction, “The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord,” (Amos 8.11).
Starvation of the Word of God means spiritual death! Did not St. Peter say, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6. 68). Wouldn’t life become meaningless without Jesus nourishing us with His loving word?
I’ve learned from these whistling frogs that, if I am to meet God, I must not allow the clamour around me to deafen me to the voice of God. He sometimes speaks with a soft, gentle voice. When I really want to concentrate I decide I must switch off my hearing aid and close my windows. I make myself shut out all distracting bird songs; in the W. Indies it would be whistling frogs.
I need to turn up the volume of “God’s Radio Station,” as it were, if I’m to hear His voice loud and clear. Other enjoyable, but distracting, stations must be tuned out.
The Psalmist urges, “O that today you would listen to His voice! Do not harden your hearts,” (Ps. 95. 7-8). So, let’s follow the example of the young Samuel with his, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam. 3. 9).

Isidore Clarke O.P.

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