There’s an old joke which notes
that when you talk to God, it’s prayer,
but when God talks to you…you're crazy!
What if I told you that God talks to me?
Often? Directly? Like an old, dear friend?
Would that sound strange to you?
Would you worry about your pastor’s mental health?
Or would you suppose it’s true,
but a rather rare and unique privilege?
Now, what if I said that God talks to you, too?
Constantly? Eagerly? With a message meant just for you?
Maybe you’re thinking, “OK, he really has lost it!”
But what I’m hoping you’ll realize—if you haven’t already—
is that this “God talk” is absolutely central to the Christian faith
which brings us together again this Sunday.
Thus says the Lord:
Just as surely as the rain and snow
come down from heaven…
…so, too, does the word that goes forth from my mouth…
God speaks through the words of the Bible—the sacred Scriptures.
We don’t read them at every Mass
as a merely historical record, like some ancient newspaper;
we read them because the voice of the living God
continues to speak to us through them—guaranteed.
And God speaks through his Church—through her sacred Tradition.
As God once spoke through Jesus on a sea in Galilee,
so he still speaks through Christ’s body—again, guaranteed—
through the liturgy, the saints,
the official teaching of Popes and Bishops.
But God also speaks in an incredible variety of ways
particular to each one of us.
The Lord knows our interests, our needs, our desires—
after all, he made us!—
after all, he made us!—
and so God addresses us in whatever ways
he’s most likely to get through clearly.
I know people to whom God has spoken through movies.
Or friends. Or books. Or sunsets.
Many times, God has spoken to me through music—
and I don’t just mean church music, either,
but whatever I’ve got on my iPod
or hear coming through the radio.
(This is where God’s sense of humor breaks through:
I’ve never, ever been a very big fan of country music…
…but I can’t count the times I’ve run across a country song
which plainly contains a message meant just for me!)
Since these many means
don’t come with Scripture’s or Tradition’s guarantee,
then how can I know that it’s God I’m hearing,
and not just myself
or something else trying to deceive me?
Because when you notice God speaking to you,
you’re listening not with your ears,
nor with the powers of your mind,
but with your heart.
When God speaks, it strikes you deep.
His voice makes more sense than anything else.
That’s not to say it’s easy;
he will challenge you…and challenge you a lot!
But God’s word rings true.
It excites you.
It makes you come alive.
But none of this can happen
if I don’t pay attention, if I’m not open,
if I don’t make myself ready to listen.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We can so easily get distracted
by the many ways how God speaks.
First off, though,
we must be thoroughly convinced that God speaks—
and speaks, not just generically to the whole human race,
and not just to other people—probably a select few.
God is speaking to you!
Jesus tells a rather sobering parable this Sunday—
the story of the sower and the seed.
that only one out of four will make it;
the other three get taken out by the world,
their own flesh, or the devil.
Clearly, Jesus is hoping
that you’ll be that one—
and not only that you’ll survive,
but that you’ll thrive
and bear bunches and bunches of good fruit.
God is sowing the seeds of his word—
Where are they falling in your life?
Are they falling on a busy path,
where they’re exposed
to the assaults of the evil one?
Are they falling on rocky ground,
where they won’t stand a chance of sinking in?
Are they falling among thorns,
only to be choked off by other priorities?
Or are you making sure there’s plenty of rich soil
into which God’s word
can send down strong, deep roots,
and then flourish and grow?
God is talking.
He’s talking to you.
It’s only crazy if you don’t listen.