One of the more popular expressions among what you might call mainline Christians is, “God put on my heart…” or some version of understanding that God was speaking to them. Some even use the phrase, “God told me…” I rarely hear such an expression among Orthodox Christians, but does that mean God isn’t speaking to us? Maybe it means He is, but we’re not listening.
During our Great Lenten Journey, with all the focus on extra prayers, extra fasting, and helping others, from the outside Great Lent appears to be a journey focused on works vs faith. Great Lent “appears” to worry more about checking off a “to do” list, rather than being in a relationship with God. Don’t get me wrong. Great Lent is most definitely a journey of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, but as I have already said so many times, these are for a spiritual purpose.
I could say, the purpose of Great Lent is for us to learn to hear God. With the very rare exceptions of the voice of God being heard from above, like in the Scriptures, we hear God with our heart. He speaks to us in the innermost part of our soul.
In today’s reading from the Gospel of Mark (you can read it below) our Lord opened the ears of a deaf man. Reading about this physical miracle caused me to think about whether or not we allow God to open our hearts so we can hear Him. Our life is filled with so many distractions, and Great Lent allows us the opportunity to filter out the other static and hear Him more clearly. Great Lent allows Him to reach in and touch our soul, as He touched the tongue of the man, and free us our soul to hear and speak to God.
As we complete the fourth week of Great Lent, I invite you to approach God, so that He can open your heart and free your soul to hear Him and speak to Him. He speaks to us through His Scriptures. He speaks to us through the Church. He even speaks to us through the interactions we have with others. When we pray, fast, and help others, it is like filtering out the distractions to hear Him better. Can you hear God?
At that time, Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of Dekapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech; and they besought him to lay his hand upon him. And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And he charged them to tell no one; but the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well: he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak." – Mark 7.31-37