Greetings and blessings to you all. Thanks for joining me for this 4th week of Advent. We have been reflecting upon some of the individuals who have a prominent place in this season of Advent because of their place in salvation history.
And now this week, I want to turn our attention to the “listening heart” of the Savior – Jesus himself. While Joseph and Mary played a very important role in salvation history, obviously the most important role was lived through the life of Jesus, beginning when he left the Father’s side to become one of us, in obedience to the Father.
As I mentioned in previous talks, the word obedience comes from the Latin word which means “to hear” or “to listen to.” So we can assume that the “listening heart” of Jesus led him to a life of obedience to the Father, on earth as in heaven.
In his earthly life, early on, Jesus made it clear that he must be about his Father’s work. Recall when Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem, when Mary and Joseph went looking for him, finding him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, his response to Mary was, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” This can also be translated, “I must be about my Father’s work.” In either translation, Jesus refers to God as his Father, and his obedience to his heavenly Father’s will takes precedence over his ties to his family. So we can see early on that Jesus had a listening heart which always sought the Father’s will.
There are numerous places in John’s Gospel which reveal Jesus doing the will of the Father. After Jesus cured a man on the Sabbath, and the Jews began to persecute him because he did this on a Sabbath, Jesus told them, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
So as we see, Jesus’ mission, in obedience to the Father’s will, was to reveal God’s love for the world – a love which climaxed in the suffering, death and resurrection of his Son. But he surrendered to the Father’s will to the end. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”
In this moment of surrender, God gave Jesus the strength to accomplish the great work of salvation on Calvary.
A listening heart always seeks the will of God, no matter where the will of God leads us. And perhaps in this season of Advent, we ask ourselves, “To what degree have we really sought the will of God in our lives? And have we taken the time to ‘listen” to that quiet voice of God within, the same voice that spoke to Joseph, and to Mary, and to the shepherds, and most of all, to Jesus?
The quiet voice of God has much to say to us; it has much to reveal to us. But in the end, it is up to us.
The “listening heart” of Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and Jesus led them to discover their role in salvation history, through their obedient love.
In these remaining days of Advent, perhaps we can take some quiet time in the busyness of preparing for Christmas, to engage our “listening heart” in prayer, and in an intentional way, surrender our will to the will of the Father.
In doing so, we will be drawn more deeply into the mystery of salvation, born to us on that first Christmas morning, and then culminated on the cross of Jesus Christ. We will experience more deeply our God who has loved us to the end, offering a life we could have never envisioned for ourselves.
And like the many saints and sinners before us, we will also discover our own role in salvation history in bringing this love into a world that is starving for what only the Savior can give.
The Lord Jesus is asking for our “yes”; he is asking for your "yes” and for my “yes.”
What will your answer be?
-Bishop Robert Gruss
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