If I only listen


If I only listen

Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’” Luke 16:29

As we listen to the Gospel this weekend, we can hear that unspoken painful regret, “If only I had listened.” The rich man hadn’t listened to Moses and the prophets, and ended up being separated from God, “suffering torment in these flames”. It’s too late for him; but certainly, it’s not too late for us. If we only listen!

A few years ago, I ran a race, the “Fast and Furriest 5K” with my dog Sutton, a joyful running companion for many years. Sutton absolutely loved running! Running a race had always brought out his competitive nature. He was going to win that race! However, he didn’t realize that being an older dog, running in relatively warm weather, that he should take it easy.  Half way through the race, Sutton started showing some signs of exhaustion.  He began slowing down and eventually he collapsed on the sidelines of the route. We still had one kilometer or so to go; so, I thought I would carry him through the finish line in my arms. What a ‘heroic story’ that would be to tell! Thankfully, someone else was watching us from the side and had more sense than I did. The poor dog needed to cool down. He was overheated with the signs of a heatstroke. We laid him in the shade under a tree and poured cold water over him. That saved his life.

If I had listened to my ego-filled heroic thoughts, most likely I would have lost him that day. Can you imagine the pain of a broken heart, laden with the guilt of stupidity on my part?  I’m so grateful I listened to the voice of a stranger on the sidewalk. His was the humble and caring voice of reason. It would have been so difficult to bear the pain of not listening. ‘If I only have listened.’ Sutton never regained the same level of fitness after this incident, but he continued to enjoy shorter and slower runs. He died a few years later of old age.

Listening is an essential part of discernment. We need to listen when making decisions, when embracing the purpose and meaning of our lives and when discerning our own vocation. God speaks to us in many ways. Sometimes it happens in a silent prayer, or when reading Scripture or through insight that we’ve never had before. Sometimes God speaks to us through events, or circumstances or encounters that we experience in our daily lives.

Sometimes the voice of God can be heard through a spiritual director, a trusted friend or even a stranger. All we have to do, is to LISTEN and we’ll hear it.

By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director