Acoustics contain the property of sound. Sound that bounces off walls and sends signals to our ears. Sound that reverberates, creates motion and sometimes creates a soothing peace. It is the action of sound that sends out waves that send signals back to us. But what is the sound that we are putting out?
When I preach, I listen- I comprehend. I hear. But this hearing is not natural, it is in the supernatural. The ears hear but the soul understands and converts the message. If the instrument of music sends out the sound, I am receiving the reverberation.
We hear by accepting the Word of God and putting it into action. It is a verb, a doing. It is not a stillness. But it is only in stillness that we hear. So the stillness comes before sound, comes before it all.
The Word of God is demanding and active, it is not passive. It requires us to be uncomfortable enough to change and to focus on ourselves, so that we become more like Him. As we turn our attention inward, this radiates outward. This is when we can turn the other cheek because then it doesn’t hurt.
It all started for me with a gospel passage I read one Sunday. It was God’s call within a call for me. That the sacrament of marriage is not just for me and my family but for all of you. That each of us are building blocks that form the foundation of the church. And as the stones are forming the very bottom, the sides, and up to the top, the cracks in the foundation are forming. Our marriages are crumbling. And Christ is on his knees while we are asleep in the garden.
The verse that started my call within a call was this admonition, this cry from Christ, found in Luke 6:27:
But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you
At first glance I had heard it all before. Yes Lord I know.
No, no you don’t. He said. Read it again.
But to you who hear…
I couldn’t go any further. You who hear. You…who…HEAR. The admonition Christ gave was not to everyone. It was to anyone who had ears to hear.
The day before, I had been to a lecture by Dr. Scott Hahn who spoke about the sacrament of marriage. I could hardly stay in my seat as I felt God nudge me several times during his presentation. This is the foundation of the church. This is the blood. This is the cross. This is everything.
Dr. Hahn’s words disappeared for me, but the Lord’s did not.
Feed my sheep, I heard… twice
Feed …my… sheep
And the call was deep and wide. And it was present. It was NOW.
As Dr. Hahn said, as we pray the rosary, as we pray the Hail Mary’s, the Blessed Virgin, our mother is present in the now and at the hour of our death. It wasn’t the hour of death that scared me, it was the present. It was coming to the realization that Mary was praying for me Now. That the time was Now. That time was happening now. And that is what was certainly running out…
I came back from Dr. Hahn’s talk with a deeply abiding conviction. My marriage has been saved by Christ. It was the reason that I was a Christian after all. But was this something that I only shared and talked about in the confines of my own home? In small circles? Was I really being honest in the ways in which God saved my marriage, the issues we faced and the rebuilding that we did and are still doing? I was fearful, ashamed and sitting with all of it. Until I heard the words from the gospel passage again :
But to you who hear…
The greek word for hear is akouo pronounced (ak-oo-o). I hear, I listen, I comprehend by hearing the word of God. But it is more than that. How God can I hear you? How can I be one of the ones who is sure to hear the next words out of your mouth?
The word akouo is the root of the english term acoustics. Acoustics are the property of sound. It is God audible. But how great is our hearing?
Acoustics is sound reproduced mechanically rather than electronically. It is not manufactured. It is of, relating to, or being a musical instrument whose sound is not electronically modified. It is sound that is pure and whole and not manufactured.
This was the hearing God was talking about. No enhancement. No enhancing of our own sound but instead allowing His sound to reverberate not off walls but instead the depths of our souls. That the word of God was not changed or altered or manufactured but instead pure and holy and true. And that sound, that sound in its purest form resonating in my ears, in your ears and down into the deepest darkest places. How can we read the rest of the gospel sentence if we cannot hear. We cannot.
And so with my newfound discovery I readied and steadied myself to HEAR the word of God. But not just to hear, but to HEAR. To listen to scripture as a an acoustic guitar with no amplifier, with its breaks and rhythms and strings and hard pauses. With the purity of finger to string and breath and pain in my fingers from producing rich sound. It is not manufactured but produced by the soul. And God’s Holy word became the acoustics, my soul the wall of sound and suddenly there was no need for an amplifier.
The next part of the gospel came like a rushing wind…
Love your enemies
And that’s when I heard it. That’s when I heard the call within a call.
And who is your enemy?
What, what Lord are you talking about! These were not the next words I expected to hear and certainly not the call I was expecting.
This is the state of marriages, the Lord said. This is what they hear.
I was spinning. It was a great sadness. I was overcome with the crashing of the verse, the real truth, the lack of amplifier. It was rawer than I had ever expected and full of sorrow. What was breaking up the church? We were.
Let the one who among you is without sin be the first to throw a stone
The stone had been in my hand. I had felt its hard and abrasive outsides. It was impenetrable. And the world swallowed my marriage alive.
But I was no longer in the world, I was in God’s church. But the same monster, the same Satan who had deeply embedded his fingers into me was the same Satan who had managed to get through the church of Jesus Christ.
Who is my enemy?
And God showed me the thoughts of so many. Marriages in separation. Marriages on the verge of divorce. Divorce itself. Excuses. Abortion. Broken families. Children with multiple fathers and mothers. Fighting and chaos and the killing of each other. There are knives in our hands.
We talk about the atheist and secularist as the murderers of our faith, but we have named the wrong suspect.
Who is my enemy?
I look around and see that it is us. We are the enemies of our own church. We are the betrayers of Christ.
If we do not start rebuilding our marriages, being honest with each other, shouting out, “Crucify Him!” we will never get better. Because it is your marriage that effects my marriage that effects my children that effects my church. Our marriages are sacramental, they do not belong to us, they belong to God. And as Christ hangs on the tree at the center of every mass we celebrate, we spit on him, roll dice for his garments and crucify him all over again; all before accepting his body, blood, soul and divinity and pretending that we are ok to do so.
So this is a call to action. Are we ready to stand with Christ and fight the evil one, the dragon, the accuser and destroyer of our faith, or will we simply meld into the world, pointing to self and saying that our behavior is ok? Change only begins when we recognize our enemy. And this enemy is not our spouse.
Jesus’ demands and commands go far beyond what we think and feel. He requires greater. And the last part of the verse…
Here. Here is my other cheek!!!!!!!!!!!!!