This is the sixth in a series of posts reflecting line-by-line on the Anima Christi.
“O good Jesus, hear me.”
How often do I hear, “Mom, Mom, Mom…” as I go through my day (with 6 children, more times than I can count!)? How many times as a mom do I hear a child scream and know it is an “attention” scream (whine, yell…)? When I open Facebook, many posts start with, “Having a hard time, if you can please say a prayer for me” or some derivation of a prayer request. The poster needs to know he or she is heard. The child nagging, yelling, screaming, whining is doing so because he or she needs to know someone hears. That gentle, or not-so-gentle, tug on the pant leg is really a little person telling me they need to be heard right then. That person on the corner with the sad look in their eyes may need someone to listen. The cashier or bagger at the store may desperately need to be heard. The list could go on and on.
My husband makes me “Nutella yogurt” nearly every night. It is delicious, but more than how yummy it is, I like it because he makes it for me. He HEARD me say I like having that treat in the evening. I too like to know I am being heard. On the flip side, how often do I repeat something only to say in frustration, “Why don’t you HEAR me?”
I have a friend going through an especially tough time right now. As we were talking one evening, she said she has a hard time praying because how does she know Jesus is hearing what she says? How do we know?
More than anything, we all want to be heard. Whether we are 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years or anywhere in between or beyond, we want to know we are heard. We want to know someone is listening.
In this line of the Anima Christi, we reach out to Jesus and ask Him, “Hear me.” How do we know Jesus hears us? Let me assure you, dear reader, He does hear us. He hears us and knows the depth of our need to be heard. Today as I visited Jesus in the sacrament of reconciliation, my penance was to pray and reflect on the words, “Into Your Hands I commend my spirit.” As I left the confessional to continue my prayer in the church, I let those words wash over me. Oh what sweet comfort it is to let go! To release my need for control over uncontrollable circumstances into Jesus’ capable hands! As I reflected on these words, peace enveloped me, and I also realized I was asking Jesus to hear me, to hear me giving Him my spirit and letting Him lead me.
In this Sunday’s gospel we hear, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 In the homily today and in the reflection I read on this gospel, the yoke Jesus is offering was discussed. Jesus is our yoke partner. He is not offering to take away our burdens; He is offering to help us share His burden with the strength only He can give. When we turn to Him, we share His yoke and His strength.
A common phrase to express surprise is “Oh sweet Jesus.” For some reason, this phrase keeps coming into my mind as I reflect on this line of the Anima Christi. Not because I am taking the Lord’s name in vain, though. In my mind, Jesus is sweet and good, interchangeably. He is the perfect listener. He hears me without interruption. He hears me in my whininess and in my desperation. He is never too tired to listen. He is never too busy to listen. He is never irritated because I am interrupting His day or what He is already doing. He is there whenever, wherever I need Him, no matter how many times a day or hour or even minute that is. He is there even when I haven’t been there, when my prayer life hasn’t been what it should be. He is still present. I read recently that when we don’t feel God’s Presence in our lives, it isn’t because He has left us, it is because we have left Him. That really changed how I pray, both for myself and my family. Now instead of asking God to stay with my family as they go through their days, I ask Him to help us stay close to Him, to help us feel His Presence as we go through our day. How do we know He is there, that He does indeed hear us? We know because we have faith. We know because when we do open ourselves to His Presence, we see Him moving in our lives. We can feel His response in the peace we feel at times. We can hear His response in those He sends to help us.
The tangible response, the “uh-huhs” are not always audible. We hear Him respond when we listen with our hearts.
“For ‘In him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28
“O good Jesus, hear me.”