Enter Into a Joyful Communion With God

I recently had a conversation on phone with an octogenarian relative of mine who was learning how to use his first android cell phone. He mistakenly muted his phone during the conversation and did not know how to unmute it. He could not hear me speaking to him but I heard him muttering under his voice as he struggled in vain to unmute his phone.  

While I was reflecting on how frustrating it was to be mistakenly muted in our conversation, it occurred to me that we too usually purposely put God on mute when we do not want to hear from Him. We mute Him when we are afraid of what He would ask of us. We put Him on mute when we want to do our own thing. This tendency to mute God only leads us to a frustrating and joyless relationship with Him.

God wants a joyful communion with us. This is the message that the priest Ezra has for the rebellious Israelites who had returned from their banishment, “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad and do not weep…Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.” No matter their infidelity to God’s law in the past and the disastrous consequences of their actions, God’s word were not condemning but inviting them again to find their joy and strength in Him.

He invites us to this joyful communion in three ways. Firstly, because God desires that we have joy in communion with Him, God always speaks to His people, “All the people listened attentively to the book of the law.” The people did not mute God in any way but listened to the whole law as proclaimed and explained by the priest Ezra. These words pierced their heart and filled them with remorse and sorrow for their infidelity, “For all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.”(See Neh 8:2-10)

Secondly, God always listens to His people, “Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before you O lord, my rock, and my redeemer.”(Ps 19) Our communion with God is not a monologue on God’s side or our own side. God always speaks and He always listens to us. He does not only listen to the words that we speak to Him, but He also listens to our thoughts, desires, and wishes.

Thirdly, God always acts in the life of His people. Jesus is empowered with the Spirit and sent on a mission to act in our lives “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor…to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” God acts to set us free from the things that hinder us from fulfilling the will of God in our lives and finding true joy in God. In Jesus Christ, God is never idle in our lives.  

For us to enter into this joyful communion, we must also first listen attentively to all that God reveals to us. We must listen without filtering out anything, ready to act on every single word that He speaks to us. We cannot hope for joy when we are picking and choosing only what appeals to our taste or what is culturally acceptable. We will be frustrated in our relationship with Him when we purposely choose to mute Him occasionally. 

We must also speak to Him honestly. Because God will never mute us out, we too must not be mute in our attitude towards Him. We must bring to Him our thoughts and desires, no matter how ashamed we may feel about them or how inappropriate they may be. We will be amazed how much joy we get from this brutally honest and sincere self-revelation to God.

Lastly, we too must give God a chance to act in our lives and set us free. We cannot free ourselves no matter the good intentions and motives that we have. Freedom is something that God does if we are properly disposed to receive it.

One buzzword in the Catholic world today is discernment. We hear so much about discernment that one would think that it is just a skill to be cultivated or something we do by simply dialoguing with people of different ideologies and beliefs or no belief at all. We can erroneously think that anyone can do discernment irrespective of his or her spiritual and moral lives.

Fr. John Hardon, SJ succinctly defines discernment of spirits as “the ability to distinguish whether a given idea or impulse in the soul comes from the good spirit or from the evil spirit.” Discernment entails that we are ready to accept what really comes from God while rejecting what we know comes from the evil one. Before we can actually seek and find the will of God through discernment, we must be free from sin and sinful attachments.

Thus, discernment is impossible when we reject or deny divine revelation in any of its form, either in Sacred Scripture or Tradition. It is an illusion to think that we can do discernment when we are sifting through God’s commandments and choosing only the ones that we like or find easy. Forget about true discernment when we mute divine revelation and settle for lies, calling evil good and good evil. 

We also cannot do discernment when we do not reveal ourselves honestly to God who reveals Himself to us out of love. Discernment requires transparency in our relationship with God. We deceive ourselves when we speak of discernment while refusing to come clean before God and trying to keep secrets from Him.

No discernment is possible when we are not ready or willing to give God a chance to act in our lives. Where there is no freedom from Jesus Christ, authentic discernment is impossible. Jesus Christ must set us free first before we can do discernment. Only a person who is intent on being a more faithful disciple of Jesus can actually discern because discernment presupposes love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a readiness to follow Him more closely. No matter their good intentions, persons who are careless with the spiritual lives and who adamantly live in mortal sin just cannot hope to do any authentic Christian discernment.

We are told that the people of Nazareth “looked intently at Jesus.” We also should do the same if we are going to do discernment. When we look at Him intently and are ready to receive from Him new freedom, He will give us His Spirit, the Spirit of discernment, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit…To one is given the discernment of spirits.”(1Cor 12:4,10) As members of the body of Christ, “we are all given to drink of the one Spirit.”(1Cor 12:13) We possess the Spirit but we do not allow the Spirit to guide us in our daily discernment and choices. 

Our Eucharistic Lord Jesus Christ never stops inviting us to a joyful communion with Him. He is present with us at each Mass to continue speaking, listening, and acting in our lives. Let us practice authentic discernment by listening to Him attentively, speaking honestly with Him and allowing Him to act and lead us in our lives. This is the only way we can enter into joyful communion with God.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

Photo by Gianna Bonello on Unsplash

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Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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