the messengers

These daily reflections usually focus on the gospel reading of the day, but today I couldn’t get past the first line of the Old Testament reading:

“The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger…”

It’s common to define prayer as conversation with God, speaking to God and listening to God. I like the definition since it respects the way we humans communicate, by talking and listening.

But it’s easier to explain how we might talk to God, telling God about what is happening, asking God’s help etc. What about listening to God? How do we hear the messages that God has for us?

I suggest that it’s much easier than we think, but we might have to look in places that we don’t expect.

We all know how to talk, but listening can be more of a challenge in any relationship. A wise person appreciates that words are only one form of communication and they are often not as reliable as actions. Sometimes we say what we don’t mean and we hear what others don’t intend to express.

The one who offers a gesture of kindness after an argument is communicating much more clearly than the one who mumbles the word “sorry”.

Perhaps we expect God to speak through great cosmic signs, and the scriptures remind us that God can do this with signs in the sky, and pillars of fire by day and cloud by night to guide the people of Israel through the desert, the rainbow communicating God’s covenant, and angels on many occasions to convey his message.

But in the new era of divine communication the Word of God became flesh and God’s normal way of communicating becomes people, beginning with the flesh and blood presence of God in the world of Jesus Christ the Word of God made flesh.

There are moments when I sense the closeness and the communication of Jesus to me in my own life. Sometimes this is an inner sense of the direction I should or should not take. But people are very often the prime communicators of the voice of Jesus directly to me.  This happens in several ways:

  1. At times my friends are honest enough with me to challenge me when I need to be challenged and to recognise when I need support.
  2. Sometimes the word or example of a stranger encourages me on the right path or helps me to see the direction to be taken or to be avoided.
  3. In more recent years I have had to accept that God often uses people I don’t like too much as messengers for me, to push my buttons helping me to see the ways in which I need to grow.

An Invitation

  • Take a moment to consider the three points above, calling to mind one person God has used to be a divine messenger for you in the past couple of days.

Final O Antiphon: O Come Emmanuel
The Advent Hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel brings together the seven O Antiphons, with the title taken from the Antiphon for today, 23 December:

O Come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!


6 Responses to "the messengers"
  1. What a real human experiences of reminding us the ways God is within us , in our midst and sending us messages and speaking to us in through the unexpected person/s and unexpected experiences. Oftentimes when messages are sending through people I don’t like it has its own challenges to be receptive. Good close friends they will speak out with integrity and the truth . With the stranger the message received with clarity and in awe as the sense of rightness is experiencing. Thank John for the wisdom of leading us through these daily reflection .

  2. Are we aware of the Holy Spirit working in our our life, and do we recognise the Holy Soirit working in the lives of others

  3. Thank you Fr John for the Advent Reflections. I found them very helpful and a greater awareness of God-with-us at all times.
    I wish you a happy Christmas and may you be richly blessed in the New Year and as you take up a new ministry. Hope you can continue with reflections at some stage.

  4. Thank You Fr John once again you have bought Advent into our hearts. I wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year,
    All the very best in your new ministry, as others have said I hope we don’t loss you in your very busy work.
    May Our Lord Jesus Christ Best you always.


  5. Dang! Just as I was settling in to my cosy little oasis for Christmas on my terms with people with whom I have a mutual admiration relationship, you have reminded me, John, that I was made for. You and Pope Francis are doing a pretty good job of showing me the way to go out, to go further, to go deeper, in trust.

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