“Sacrifice and and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, “Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll. To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart.” (Psalm 40: 7-9. The New American Bible).
The word “obedience” is a scary one for many of us to hear. We live in the age of do as you wish and do not care about anyone or anything else. Lest we be ignorant, all of us are affected by such. Including myself. I love that I can do anything I want without much competition. I can make the choice to be locked up inside myself and give myself over to some form of instant gratification. Some of those choices are not entirely choices. Many of them come from the influence of my upbringing and other people, and the culture around me.
St. Benedict in the Prologue of The Rule writes about the importance of turning our ears and hearts to God that we may know what God is calling us to; beyond ourselves and our small world view. St. Benedict understood that it is not possible to know what God asks us to be obedient to God without “inclining the ears of our hearts” to what the Holy Spirit is saying. When we take the time to really listen, and I do not mean listen as if it hits us like lightening; but with an openness to hear what the Spirit is saying, not what we want to hear. It takes some real silence and a willingness to obedience not out of fear, but for the love of God alone.
Our point of contemplation and the mystical experience is beyond what we see or know; it is how the God who made everything and has reached out to us in the Word Incarnate and now calling us to respond to God’s love and give ourselves in total surrender to God’s will. Each of us will respond and say “Here I am” differently. Mary responded in her way. Saint Paul in his. The most crucial thing is to listen in the here and now and let go.
What might God be asking you to respond with, “Here I am, Lord” ?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB