Then Jesus cried aloud: "Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me…for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father told me." (John 12: 44,49-50)
I think I've found my new task for ongoing conversion. Every so often sleepy gospel passages spring to life and beckon me to open myself to their power. Such words are 'spirit and life'. The time has come to reconsider my vocation's meaning and to surrender it into the Father's hands for his purposes.
One purpose of formation is to equip us for this sacred act of listening and responding to the 'Will of God'. This is true discipleship and it is a costly endeavor. It requires self-sacrifice and emptying of self; all for the preparing of a free heart to serve God. I'm not interested in a diploma in holiness, but a relationship with God, and a heartfelt desire to bring about his presence to others.
It's a risky act to give one's will over to someone else, even God. This requires trust in God's goodness and faith in his divine love. Moreover, we hope that this love is over-abounding to our weak love. The light (evidence) we have is the incarnation of Jesus, who embodies the Father's love. By the power of the Holy Spirit, this testimony is carried on through time, by a host of imperfect disciples to us.
So we in turn, must step into that ecclesial mission of 'giving birth to Jesus', in order that the world receives its spiritual light here and now, in our authentic living of the gospel. Most likely, our particular divine mission will never be trumpeted as such. It may be so humdrum and routine that it's indistinguishable from the ordinary circumstances of our lives. Therefore, it will probably involve more prayerful listening and an earnest desire to hear the 'Will of the Father' amidst a culture of hypnotic distractions and noise.
So what are the techniques for better listening? Perhaps it's nothing new, but rather attentiveness to what we've already heard. We might simply listen with a truly open heart to the gospel and accept its message more docilely. Or take the Rule more seriously and embrace it with greater determination as the center of our 'plan of life'. We might pray more with the Saints and look for clues in how they responded to God.
Those of us who have chosen the Franciscan journey have the additional help of walking the path joyfully in fraternity, quickened by the common goal of our vocations. Listening (and responding) for God's sake.