Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18
And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).
God Whispers to Us
Heaven only knows the conversations that have transpired between God and human souls in the silence of the night. God whispers in the interior chamber of the heart and waits for a response. How many people, lying awake in their “Inner room” of which the gospel speaks, have felt the approach of the Lord and been forced to respond? Have you felt during those moments when God has come uncomfortably close in silence? My guess is that these encounters represent some of the greatest (yet untold) battles in human history. The strong ramparts of the stony human heart brace themselves against God’s call, while the wavering soul decides whether it will open its gates to His approach.
Why do we human beings get so easily caught up in heartless external performance of religion? Perhaps we fear the word which God will speak to us in private. We fear that it will challenge us–shake us up. God will ask of us something we cannot give.
Let us look at the example of St. Ignatius, however, who was forced by circumstance (a well-aimed cannonball) to enter into the inner chamber of the heart. A titanic battle ensued, a battle greater than the one that toppled him from the city walls. Ignatius feared that God would ask him more than he could give. Yet Ignatius relented. He said yes. He lived a life to the full. And aren’t we all better off for it?
—Fr. Kevin Dyer, S.J.
Lord, we need to pay closer attention to your voice. Perhaps you are trying to tell us something through a family member, through the summer stars, through a question, a reading, a movie. Help us to slow down so we don’t silence your voice. Help us to pause in your presence so we can give you a chance to be heard. If you lead, Lord, we will follow.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team