Faith, Doubt, Tiny Voices, and Peace ~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

“There was a tiny whispering sound.”

“I will hear what God Proclaims; the Lord – for he proclaims peace.”

“…and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”

“…my soul waits for his word. Alleluia, alleluia.”

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

These snippets from today’s readings speak to me. Do they speak to you?

And a calm descended…that is what I feel as I hear these words spoken in today’s Mass. A calm that passeth all understanding.

Well, that is fine for all of the readings but the Gospel. There, we are told of a storm, a near drowning, a helping hand at the last moment. None of us who have been in a life-threatening situation feels calm afterwards. The adrenaline rush takes over and we are at the height of our senses. Life-threatening events evoke strong and heavy winds crushing rocks, and earthquakes, and fire.

But Jesus lays his hand on us and all is calm. Is that the tiny whispering sound?

This week, as I am wont to do, I pondered my role as a Dominican. “The Order of Preachers.” First, “Order” and second, “Preachers.” In my mind, that used to mean getting up on a soap box and spouting off to all who would listen. Winning souls to Christ.

But in Jesus’s teachings, do we ever find the concept of a battle to make others believe…or to help them believe? Don’t we just find Jesus speaking from the heart to our hearts?

“O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

An exhortation to arms? A call to battle?  No, simply a question: can’t you already see that God is at hand? Right here, right now?

Of course, when we are in a calm place, a quiet retreat, we can hear the tiny voice. We can imagine and experience the calm. But what about when we are actually in the maelstrom? How easy it is to focus on that, on the danger, on the problems. We make plans, build barriers, put on the armor we need to fight the battle.

But then, as is also common with me…and maybe you…here comes St. Paul speaking to the Romans, and to me:

“…my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.”

So how did the prophet, experiencing hunger, chains, prison, beatings, how did he keep hold of that tiny voice? Perhaps it was his direct experience with the Risen Christ. Surely it was his deep understanding of and attachment to the message of Jesus. Whatever it was, that tiny voice was all he needed to get him through his many trials.

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

So back to my “order” and “preacher” idea: There is nothing stern, no fire and brimstone, no mountains rending nor earth erupting. There is the simple message of Jesus inviting us to listen to the tiny voice that he says is already at work in us.

And although it is wrongly attributed to St. Francis, I still like the admonition: “Preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words.” Which is to say, how I live my life is as much an act of preaching the Gospel as going from village to village proclaiming the Good News.

But it is not only to our role as Preachers that these readings speak. They also tell us that within ourselves, when we are in distress for whatever reason, there is comfort in knowing that the peace we seek is already within us, if only we could put aside the anxiety for a while and listen. And even if we begin to sink into the depths of despair, Jesus is there with his hand to hold us up, just as he held up St. Peter on the stormy waters.

Lord, open our ears that we may hear you calling to us. Help us to listen to your tiny voice amidst the noise and clamor of this world. Let us take comfort in receiving your benefits that are ours for the taking. In Jesus name, Amen.

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