Today’s homily is for the 2nd Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
You may not know that I was a wrestler in high school and college, and it is common that the wrestling coach has a chair at the corner of the mat. It’s there so the coach can support his wrestler during the match. During my matches there could be hundreds of people yelling in the room, but my coach was the only person I heard. That’s very important. What’s also common is that teammates enthusiastically watching the match, gather along the edges of the mat to encourage their friend and teammate. We had a guy on our team named, Spiro, and one time while my friend, Alex, was on the mat Spiro was yelling at the top of his lungs to get Alex’s attention. “Alex!” he yelled. “Alex” he yelled again and again. Four or five times he bellowed Alex’s name. Alex, in the middle of a very difficult match, finally looked over to Spiro to see what good advice he might have for him that had to be heard at that very moment. I remember like it was yesterday, Spriro finally got his attention and said, “Listen to coach, Alex. Listen to coach.” Of course, the coach had also been trying to get Alex’s attention too, but Sprio just yelled that much louder, I guess. I thought it was the craziest thing, yelling for someone’s attention, only to point them toward another person once you had their attention.
But that’s exactly what happens in the Gospel today. Jesus has been trying to get through his disciples’ thick heads, they climb all the way up the mountain, and God the Father says, “This is my chosen son, listen to him.” Jesus had been trying to get their attention all along. Thank you, Spiro.
I think the Holy Spirit pulls a Spiro all the time! I think all throughout our day, the Spirit uses everything and everyone to get our attention–always trying to get us to listen to the voice of our Lord. Of course when God says to “listen to him,” he’s not just talking about our ears. Listening happens with our ears, eyes, and heart.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and Jesus tells us that his disciples know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow him. We need to listen. We get busy, we get distracted by the crowd, our lives are filled with so much noise that we cannot hear the voice of the Lord whisper to us in the silence of our heart—but luckily Jesus sends us his Spiro to get our attention. How does Spiro, Jesus’ Spirit, turn our eyes and ears to Jesus?
One very obvious way is through the person of the priest. At Mass when the priest says the words of consecration, “This is my body, do this in memory of me.” Do not be distracted by Father Manuel, hear our Lord on the night he was betrayed. Again through the priest during Reconciliation, do not be distracted, hear Jesus himself say, “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” In that moment we are there, at the Lord’s feet, being forgiven.
How many of you have ever heard a homily or a talk at Church, or anywhere else, really, and God just spoke right to your heart? Right in the midst of life, God gives us a precious gift—his blessing and consolation through a priest, a deacon, someone or something else. We also hear God’s voice speak to us in Sacred Scripture. The Second Vatican council document, Dei Verbum reads, “In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them.”(21)
God speaks to us through our spouse, our friends and family, a coworker, and even sometimes through those whom we may not even like that much—through anyone at any time (Those are the Spiro’s in our life). God speaks to us. Spiro gets our attention—Jesus speaks to us. In any particular moment of our life, he speaks to us through our conscience. Listen to him.
Finally, I want to encourage you to set aside some time in your day, just to sit and be with the Lord. When it’s still dark outside, and it’s quiet, get up, light a candle and pray. Share your joys and thanksgivings, but share your burdens and your difficulties too. Share…and then listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. You will be amazed and moved by what you hear.