1. We listen to him in Scripture. We naturally listen for him to speak in the gospels. We listen to his teaching, for his words of forgiveness, and healing and life. Jesus speaks to the dying when he says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” We need not confine our listening to the gospels. St. John tells us that Jesus is the Incarnation of the Eternal Word of God that spoke in Creation. The Eternal Word spoke and never stops. He speaks not only in scripture but in Creation itself.
2. We listen to him in the prophetic community. The Old Testament mentions many prophets. Abraham the Father of all who have faith, Moses the Law Giver, and David the King were all prophets. So were Elijah and Isaiah and Zechariah. John the Baptist was the last of the great old Covenant prophets. He pointed at Jesus and said, “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, St. Peter points to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and says:
“This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel, in the last days, God declares, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
What does this mean? It means that “All God’s people are prophets.” It is our privilege and duty to speak and live the prophetic word in a prophetic community.
3. We hear Jesus speak in situations. Sometimes he speaks to us through someone in need. In Matthew 25, Jesus says that he is present in the least of the least. When we help the least, the left-out, the marginalized we help Jesus. If we have ears to hear, Jesus speaks in all situations. For several months now he has been speaking to us through the Covid-19 Pandemic. What is he saying to you? I think I have heard him speak a number of times.
I hear him saying that we are all in this together. We read in Acts 17, “God made us all from one blood, that we might seek him and, perhaps, find him.” I hear him saying that our troubled Earth can heal, but only if we human beings care for it as we should.
I hear him saying that if we have faith, love, and hope, and food, and clothing, and shelter, and something to keep us active in body, mind, and spirit, then we can be wonderfully happy. There is a beauty in simplicity, and some of us are rediscovering it.
I hear him saying that we don’t need a building to be a church. There are many ways of experiencing community, and many people are crying out for that community.
Finally, I hear him saying “this too will past.” He is also saying, the lesson that we learn from it must not. The future is a foreign country, but we have a Good Shepherd who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He will guide us through the future, beside still waters, to green pastures, and ultimately back to the Father’s house.