Sometimes when I submit my thoughts on the Scripture readings to the editor, she sends back an email asking me to supply a “reflection starter.” I don’t think she’ll make that request this week because a starter for reflection is about all I have to offer.
The focus here is a single line from today’s Psalm response. “The Lord hears the cry of the poor” (Ps 34:7). My one observation on that statement is this: God hears the sighs of people in need, and the way he answers is by sending us.
Occasionally he sends a world-class, professional player (think Mother Teresa); most of time he sends an amateur (you or me). On that biblical text, what more needs to be said?
How is it that God hears the cry of the person in need? Why, it’s because he is listening. What about me, then? Am I listening?
If my head is full of my own thoughts all day long, and my thoughts are mostly about me, how can I hear anyone in need — especially if their cry is muffled or hidden?
A character in a novel by Chaim Potok says something very insightful about silence: “You can hear the pain of the world in it.”
Do I have any silence in my life? Do I have times when I get free from doing stuff and thinking about the stuff I need to do, and get quiet, and give the needs of the people around me a chance to penetrate my consciousness?
In silence, I can begin to listen to God, and to my own heart. That seems essential.
There is a world of people in need. There are unlimited opportunities to help, including organizations of every kind that provide openings for volunteer efforts.
But what I will be able to do in peace and love, what I will be able to sustain, what will bear fruit for the other person — that help needs to come from the heart and from the Holy Spirit.
So then, prayer starter:
Holy Spirit, lead me into silence. Quiet my preoccupations and anxieties. Be with me as I think about the people around me who might need my help.
Give me discernment to see where my compassion lines up with your invitation to join you in hearing the cry of the poor.