Listening to God demands a radical openness to the voice of God. This type of listening requires a “knowledge of God’s will”; the experience of Jesus “comes from the experience of listening in prayer” said Fr Jason Boatswain, the main celebrant and homilist at the August 13 Marian Devotions at the Our Lady of Fatima Church and Shrine, Laventille.
The pilgrims, many of whom wore blue to represent Mary, listened attentively to the words of the homily. Fr Trevor Nathasingh, parish priest of Laventille/Morvant/Success Village cluster concelebrated at the Mass, while members of the parish of the Church of the Incarnation, Maloney led the music ministry.
Fr Boatswain, the parish priest in the Arouca/Maloney cluster, considered the hills of Laventille to be like the mountains where Jesus withdrew to be alone to listen to His Father. The mountain, he observed was a “place of encounter”. “It is always a place where you go to encounter the voice of the Lord,” he said. In the same way, he likened the Laventille Devotions to a place where the faithful gathered to listen to the voice of God and the voice of Our Lady.
Many people however are not in the habit of listening to God. Fr Boatswain said, “We are supposed to listen to 90 per cent of what God has to say and do 10 per cent of the talking.” The reality is reversed though with persons talking 90 per cent and listening for 10 per cent when they encounter God.
Referring to the Sunday’s first reading (1 Kgs 19:9, 11–13), Fr Boatswain said that Elijah was “expecting God to speak in a loud voice”; in the earthquake, in fire, or in the strong winds. Elijah, however, experienced the blessings of God because he was open to a God who spoke in silence. Fr Boatswain considered Mary to be the role model of listening to God and being radically open to His voice and His will. This “radical openness” demanded accepting that “God does not operate according to our ways, our duties [and] our will”.
He warned the faithful against trying to “box in God”, or trying to domesticate God by thinking “this is how God must speak, or this is what God must do”. This is what Mary teaches through her openness to and respect for the mystery of God, he remarked, adding that Mary understood that “God is bigger than what she could ever know, understand or come to terms with”. She understood how “God operates”.
Listening also demands discernment, Fr Boatswain said, as “We have to ponder like Mary, if we don’t understand what is happening.” The act of pondering acts as a guard against the act of impulsiveness, which “leads to problems”.
Fr Boatswain acknowledged the difficulties in listening to the voice of God in a world filled with “noise” which did not allow a space “to hear and listen anymore”. It is easier instead, like Peter in the Gospel, to lose focus, “to stop listening to the voice of the Lord” and begin to sink. It is the fear that drives many to stay in the boat, “finding safety and security right where we are”. He said, “Jesus calls you to walk on your fears and come to Him”.
Jesus is all too aware of the reality that walking on one’s fears demands courage, Fr Boatswain said, “because He knows the journey from the boat to Him is filled with many difficulties”. Jesus commands His faithful to “take courage in Me”. He said that like Mary, the faithful must be able to “say yes to God”, excited to do His will because “our deepest peace is in God’s will… God will not allow us to sink”. The next Laventille Devotions is carded for Sunday, September 10.