Fr John’s reflection for Sunday 5 Nov 2023

Listening to God with our whole lives

The reflection this weekend looks at how the office that a person occupies can be confused with who the person is. In an egalitarian culture such as Australia, there has been an essential recognition that a person is taken on their merits rather than on the position they occupy. Authority tends to be hard won and easily lost when a person acts differently from what they say. I believe that this is important when we seek to reflect on the role of people who occupy ecclesial offices and how they can be perceived as speaking for God rather than about God. I believe this can be at the heart of any Christian life or in fact any religious person that they need to hold this balance of what they can speak about definitively and what they can speak about from their own reflection. I believe this is what lies at the heart of the Gospel text that notices the subtle distinction between proximity to the Holy and closeness to the Holy One.

I know from my ongoing reflection that it is important that I seek to live a life of closeness to God in my prayer and in my prayerfulness. I cannot presume that I am close to God simply because I exercise an office with the Church. I am only too aware of the apparent contradictions within my own life between what I say and what I do. Almost like St Paul, I seek to do good but often find myself doing the very thing I hate. It is important that at the heart of our life that we abide in a living relationship with God not just our own perceptions of holiness. We are called to be formed into the image of the Divine Master who is ever creative and ever new.

This calls us also to ponder on how we seek to live the Word of God in our daily lives. This is not just through a familiarity with scripture but rather an absorbing the word and allowing our hearts to be transformed by what we hear. There is a need to have a heart that is teachable and tenderised. This is not a blind pounding of noise but rather a softening attentiveness to the quiet breeze of God. We listen to the life that lies at the heart of all life and allow ourselves to be taught.

It is in this spirit that we gather to be present to God who presides over our life with mercy and compassion. We become formable and present to the guiding hand that entices us to draw closer. This is not through our own merits but rather our deepest need. God demonstrates love for us by seeking broken hearts and earnest longings. We discover that we are indeed close to the heart of God who reaches out to us long before we reach out to God.


Fr. John Armstrong


“The intellectual quest is exquisite, like pearls and coral. But it is not the same as the spiritual quest. The spiritual quest is on another level altogether. Spiritual wine has a subtler taste. The intellect and the senses investigate cause and effect. The spiritual seeker surrenders to wonder.” (Rumi Wisdom; trans. Timothy Freke)