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3rd Week of Advent
The angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. (Luke 1:11)
Zechariah was thunderstruck. Not only had he seen an angel up close and personally; this angel spoke directly to him.
Most of us can only imagine what that heavenly encounter must have felt like because we’ve never seen an angel or heard God’s audible voice. So does this mean that supernatural encounters are rare? Zechariah’s experience probably is. But the truth is, you can encounter God every day.
In a way, encountering God is easier and harder than we often think. Easier, because when we’re attentive, we start finding him all over the place. Harder, because we have to actually begin paying attention. Angels don’t usually drop in for an informal chat!
Listen as Pope Francis speaks about a secret to encountering God: “Finding God in all things is not an ‘empirical eureka.’ When we desire to encounter God, we would like to verify him immediately by an empirical method. But you cannot meet God this way. God is found in the gentle breeze perceived by Elijah.”
Did you catch the secret? It’s in learning to sense this gentle breeze. Many people who learn to encounter God start by listening for his gentle voice. They describe God’s voice as sounding, or feeling, just like one of their own thoughts. They say it’s the tone, the content, and the effect of these special thoughts that give them away as actually coming from God. His tone is kind and encouraging. His words are pure and holy. And their effect is to draw us closer to him.
Here’s a way that you could learn to sense his voice. Try to start a little conversation with God right now by asking him a question. It doesn’t have to be a solemn prayer. Have a little fun! Remember the wide-eyed curiosity you had when you were a child? You felt there was so much about the world you didn’t know. You didn’t have any problem approaching your parents with a question. Well, there’s so much about God that you don’t know!
So ask him a question, and then listen for his gentle voice. Remember it may feel just like one of your own thoughts. Here’s one to get you started …
“Lord, how much do you love me?”
Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
Psalm 71:3-6, 16-17
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