By Ryan Browne
On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the Gospel (Luke 3:1-6), in which John the Baptist is called. John, that very voice in the wilderness prophesied by Isaiah.
A simple man called for the sole purpose of sign-posting the way to Jesus and His heavenly Kingdom. John, the servant who humbled himself and heard the voice that cried out in the wilderness.
He was so accustomed to listening to God’s words spoken through the prophets that “the word of God came” to him too. He then becomes the voice in the wilderness. John’s voice prepares the way for the spoken Word of God by proclaiming a baptism of repentance.
Today, let’s turn our attention to the art of listening. It’s one thing to have the humility to know when not to speak. It’s another thing to actually listen to another person when we are silent.
Do we really listen to one another?
Do we really listen to what God is calling us to do?
Listening is not always an easy task. Take a glance at our secular world: polarisation and isolation. Take a look at social media. Comments, fuelled by hatred, fired every second. This is simply because we cannot stop, fall silent, and listen to the other.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is calling us to accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts, especially of wisdom and understanding, are rooted in the art of listening. He is calling us to accept these gifts, so that we can hear God’s voice ourselves and allow it to transform us, mould us, shape us.
John heard God’s voice and became a voice crying out in the wilderness. Mary and Joseph heard God’s voice and welcomed the promised Messiah into their lives. The Communion of Saints is made up of listening experts. Countless women and men have opened their ears and hearts to the voice of God crying out in the wilderness of their lives.
If we hear that voice and participate in the transformation that voice cries out for, we too “shall see the salvation of God”.
God still cries out through the people who hear his voice.
Can you hear it?
Ryan Browne, from Bournemouth, England, is a seminarian studying at the Venerable English College in Rome, in his first year of theology.