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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 2nd Sunday B – 14th January 2024

2nd Sunday B

St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

14th January 2024

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”

My friends,

Our attention span is getting shorter. It is widely recognised in media circles that unless you grab people’s attention from the first seconds of any communication and hold it – you’ve lost it. And if you are successful, you’ll be likely to hold it for a few minutes. That explains why so much is spent on advertising – messages no matter how simple need to be repeated endlessly for them to be embedded in our minds / consciousness.

A key phrase in our first Reading from the first Book of Samuel is one that invites us to think on our capacity to listen so that we might truly hear. “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”. There is no doubt about the difficulty that all of us have ‘round paying attention – this is true of young and old alike – because we are bombarded with a multiplicity of voices that it takes a deliberate choice to listen attentively to some voices and reject others. The reality of our daily experience is that those who shout loudest and most often tend to dominate the airwaves and politics. As with advertising huge budgets are spent on controlling access to public discourse.

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”

How can we ensure that we are being attentive to the voice of the Lord calling us?

A definite starting point for us every day is found in the verse from the Responsorial Psalm

“In the scroll of the book it stands written

that I should do your will

My God, I delight in your law

in the depths of my heart”

Our desire to go deeper than the superficial noises and voices we are continually exposed to is our aspiration to listen and to do so patiently. It is a desire to think, to live, to act and speak in sincerity and truth, to be authentic in thought and fact.

The path of the disciple to-day in that sense invites us to swim against the currents of so much of what society deems desirable. Sadly, because much of our spiritual formation is seen and understood as indoctrination – the richness of our faith isn’t properly understood.

The central and core message of political liberalism is the absolute value placed on personal autonomy and freedom – my choice, my right(s) are pre-eminent – while the reality is every choice and right I exercise has an impact on others – raising questions of justice, equality, good or evil.

Our faith is so often mistakenly portrayed as a block on this autonomy of life, when in fact our faith offers a freedom before God to seek his will for our flourishing as individuals and society.

This is a law not so much written on tablets of stone rather written on our minds and hearts.

“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening

You have the message of eternal life”.

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