2 Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16a
Romans 6: 3-4, 8-11
Matthew 10: 37-42
Long before we all had to be six feet apart, a son took his mother to the Social Security office. As they entered, the security guard stopped them and asked, “Ma’am, are you carrying any weapons?” “Oh, yes,” she declared quite jubilantly as she began to reach for her purse. The guard ran out from behind his post and grabbed her arm. Horrified, the son shouted, “Mom, what are you doing?” “I was just getting out my driver’s license to show the guard,” she replied. “He didn’t ask you for your driver’s license. He asked you if you were carrying any weapons.” “Oh,” she said to the guard, embarrassed. “No weapons. Sorry, I don’t always pay attention.” Thankfully neither of them went to jail that day. But they both learned a valuable lesson: it is incredibly important to pay attention and listen attentively and then respond appropriately. In our first reading, from the Second Book of Kings, we see the welcome given to the prophet Elisha by a childless “woman of influence” and her aging husband. The woman recognized the holiness of Elisha. She showed him hospitality by inviting him to dine with her and her husband and by arranging a guest room in their house so that Elisha could stay with them whenever he visited the area. In response, Elisha promised her: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.” And that promise was heard and fulfilled by God.
Both the woman and the prophet were attentive listeners and appropriate responders. She recognized Elisha’s holiness and responded with warm hospitality. Elisha recognized her unspoken desire for a child and responded as the instrument of God’s answer to her prayers: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”
It can be so easy to become frustrated with people who do not pay attention. A parish office had to close when the power went out. They placed a sign on the door that read: “The parish office is closed due to the power outage. We will re-open tomorrow morning.” A woman stopped the pastor outside and asked: “Is the parish office closed, Father?” “Yes, we placed a sign on the door. We lost power.” “Oh, yes,” she said. “I saw the sign. When will you re-open?” “Tomorrow morning,” he replied. “I thought that’s what the sign said,” she answered. “And is this because of the power outage?” Ten minutes later a man stopped the pastor. “Father, I called the parish office and got a recording saying that you were closed today. So I drove up here to find out for sure. Are you really closed?” The pastor could hardly believe what was happening: either he was going bonkers or everyone else needed remedial “Hooked on Phonics.” In our own relationships with God, perhaps we are not much different. Struggling to trust God during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Questioning His plan – or even wondering if there is a plan – when our lives face so many unforeseen and annoying changes. Wondering if God is really there when our prayer life seems so dry and unsatisfying. However, God continually reminds us that He is always with us, especially when times are tough. But we need to pay attention and be attentive listeners and appropriate responders. There are those infomercials for hearing devices. [I hope that the lady at the Social Security office can check on one before her next visit with airport TSA.] I truly wish, though, that we all could have one for our prayer. God’s voice is often so quiet, but it brings so much peace and reassurance when we listen for it attentively. The philosopher Blaise Pascal remarked, “All our problems boil down to our inability to be happy in our room by ourselves.” Silence – no distraction, no opportunity to browse, spend or talk too much – isn’t so bad if we learn to be at peace with ourselves, all alone. Yes, too much silence can drive us berserk. But still, making the most of our quiet time is a talent worth cultivating. I hope that this start to the summer season brings you some peace and joy and quiet. God is still speaking to us. Let’s just hope that we are all paying attention as His attentive listeners and appropriate responders.