Editors' note: Every day of Lent Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill will be providing audio reflections on the Psalms of the day as part of America's “The Word” podcast.
“If only my people would hear me, and Israel walk in my ways,/ I would feed them with the best of wheat,/ and with honey from the rock I would fill them.” ~ Ps 81:.14, 17
Paul Tillich, the 20th-century German-American theologian, wrote eloquently of “the love that listens.” He saw reciprocal listening as the foundation of just human relationships, declaring, “No human relation, especially no intimate one, is possible without mutual listening.”
Today’s psalm prompts us to consider the balance of talking and listening in our lives.
Today’s psalm prompts us to consider the balance of talking and listening in our lives. When we converse with others, are we listening attentively and empathetically, or are we simply holding back until it is our turn to talk? And when we converse with God in prayer, are we the ones doing all the talking?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with our making our petitions (and, one hopes, our thanks) known to God. We are told to lay our cares upon him, to entrust our worries to him, to express our gratitude. But we need to make time to listen, too. Are our ears truly open to hear the voice of the God? For he has been calling us since the beginning of creation.
As Adam and Eve cowered shamefacedly in Paradise, the voice they heard was God’s: “Where are you?” That call still resonates in our lives. “Where are you?” God wants to know. “I have love to give you. I have work for you to do.” God offers us the best of his love, or in the psalmist’s terms, the finest wheat and honey from the rock.
Through the grace of faith and the gift of free will, we may respond by receiving his love and undertaking his work. The first step is to try, every day, to listen for his voice.
Loving Lord, Open my ears to hear your voice, open my heart to receive your love and strengthen my resolve to do your will. Amen.