Sunday, April 17; Fourth Sunday of Easter

While putting these thoughts down on paper, I am hearing the voices of young children just beneath my window.  Morning recess is in full swing for our Pre-School and Pre-K kids at the parish school.  And it is my day off.   Energy is being burnt off as they scream, shout and laugh; with a young boy make-believing he’s a monster as he roars his way around the playground, striking fear in anyone willing to believe.

Though I can’t make out any of their words, their voices and energetic sounds make me smile.  They give hope.  Amid this ecstatic joy, I sometimes sense, when I give it time, the One who urges us to become like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; who still speaks for anyone willing to listen; within what Thomas Merton described as “the present festival, the present moment.”

Through the voices of children centuries ago, was not the ear of Augustine’s heart opened as he heard them chanting the rhyme, “Take and read!  Take and read!” at a distance?  Their young voices inspired him to take up St. Paul’s words from his letter to the Romans which he had near at hand.  Their playful voices and Paul’s admonishing words awakened Augustine and converted his heart; spelled out in his “Confessions”. 

In the Gospel this 4th Sunday of Easter (John 10:27-30) Jesus says:  “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

In his sermon for Advent St. Bernard of Clairvaux states that “The Word still speaks, even if no one is listening.”  What keeps us from recognizing this Voice and Word that still speaks; urging us to become like children?  With our grown-up ways we make life so bloody complicated as we allow the refuse of so much noise to clog our minds to the point of distraction; blind to what is in front of us and deaf to what’s being said within the present festival: like birdsong, wind and children’s voices.

During the Easter appearances is it not the voice of the Risen Christ that dispels fear and resurrects hope within the disciples’ emptied hearts?  Even now, this Voice still speaks; the Word heard when we give it time, sit and listen.  The everyday challenge is to attune ourselves to the playful, admonishing Voice of the One who lives, present in all that surrounds us and deep within us.  Let me close with words by Esther de Waal found in her book I’m presently reading, “Lost in Wonder”:

 

                                                You are here in the ones I ignore;

                                                the shuffling old man in the street,

                                                the hollow-eyed woman unkempt,

                                                the neighbor I pass hurriedly by.

 

                                                I see neither their need nor mine,

                                                it is I who turn silent away.

                                                …No wonder I do not hear your voice

                                                I turn away from your presence.  (p.70)

 

Father Tim Clark, Pastor

 
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