From God’s Mouth to My Ears by Fran Salone-Pelletier

A large part of the small Christian community experience is reflecting individually and collectively on the Scriptures. As part of our ongoing effort to promote the work of SCCs, we like to periodically feature reflections on the lectionary cycle to inspire SCC members and enrich the content of their discussions. Here, TAC contributor Fran Salone-Pelletier looks at the opening reading from Isaiah from the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time and concludes with an original prayer—Ed.

I love the phrase used in many churches at the conclusion of a particular Scriptural lesson: “The word of God proclaimed for the people of God.” It helps me to concretize the fact that the underlying reason to read passages from Scripture is to listen carefully to the message God is sending today to each and all of us. What is God trying to say to me about God’s presence in my life as well as my presence in God’s life? Unlike the proverbial Yiddish cry that underscores and identifies each petition and request, “From my mouth to God’s ear,” the proclamation of the Christian is “From God’s mouth to my ear.” From early morning offerings to late-night examens, we yearn to hear what comes from God.

It is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that God’s word is steadfastly creative. God has promised that “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Isa 55:10-11).

When I read those words, I am greatly comforted. God is in charge of the universe and I am relieved of the strain of that responsibility. I am also greatly confused. If God’s word does not return void but will perform God’s will, then where do I fit into the picture? Am I to simply stand by and watch? How do I participate in that creative process?

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the words of a bumper sticker I have seen: Lead, follow, or get out of the way. When first I read the message, I was annoyed. How presumptuous! The audacity of a statement that so categorized people was also insulting. With a calmer vision, I could look with the eyes of a visionary and see the command of Christianity. Make a choice . . . for God’s sake. Lead people to God. Follow others to God. Not to choose is to take the sole remaining option—get out of the Way. Divinity was speaking from a piece of plastic stuck on the back of an automobile. I was able to hear the message sent from God’s mouth to my ears.

My life challenge is to be a divine cooperator. That’s the work laid out for me. Obviously, it will involve discernment. What does it mean for me to be leading in God’s way, following God’s way, or getting out of God’s way? How will I know that I am on the right path?

I guess—and that’s about all I can do is to guess—that I am on the same wavelength as God, that I am truly following God’s lead, being God’s person, and doing God’s will. Obviously, my guessing must be based on empirical evidence of some sort. So, I increase my awareness of my harmony with divinity by noting the music we produce together. Where I have labored to water aridity with fruitfulness, God’s will is being accomplished. Where the emotionally, spiritually, or physically hungry are nourished with the bread of life, God’s will is being accomplished. Where hardened earth baked or frozen to rigidity is softened with a smile, a kind word, a pat of affirmation, God’s will is being accomplished. Whenever any of us bless potentiality, tilling it with trust and hoeing it with hope until it becomes actuality, God becomes apparent. The task is easy—if we remember to plant, sow, and distribute empowerment in exactly the manner that God does.

God is a broadcaster. The good news continues. There is no wrong place for seed to land. There is no exclusivity in divinity. Seeds are spread with deliberate abandon—and that is not a contradiction in terms! God freely and deliberately graces all creation with abundance. Goodness lies in the very act of sowing the seed. When it lands on well-travelled pathways and seems to have no effect, the birds are fed. Rocky and thorny soil still yield something, however short-lived a crop. Goodness is always given a chance at vitality. “Indeed, the whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons and daughters of God” (Rom 8:19).

If all of this is the good news where is the bad?

Lack of human response is the bad news. We are our own worst enemies because we can choose to be obstacles in God’s way. Our refusal to receive, share, and spread God’s word will never completely nullify it nor empty it of its universal power. It will, however, not produce its individual yield in a person who has no ear to hear nor heart to listen nor eye to see the harvest that can be had. Even more frighteningly blameworthy are those communities of individuals— especially church congregations and their leaders—whose paths are so trodden with an erroneous sense of tradition, so ridden with rock-hard rules and regulations, so filled with thorny self-importance, that God’s word hasn’t a chance to take root. Their self-righteousness and sluggish hearts stifle growth. Though they appear to be looking intently, they do not see budding faith, so they scorch it with fiery fear. While pretending to listen to cries of enslavement, they do not hear. Freedom is choked—until, at last, it withers and dies.

Those who try to encourage continued development and deepening of faith, as well as the ones who seek it, find only destruction and disenfranchisement. Grave though the picture might seem, it is neither grim nor gruesome. Good News remains intact. God’s word shall not return void. Like birds on the trafficked footpath, those who are rejected ingest the seeds of fidelity and fly away to a more receptive spot—a place where what is sown can fall on good soil and yield grains of faithfulness.

I have heard the stories from persecuted people, witnessed them in the lives of the alienated, and know them to be true. Wrapped in the trappings of humanity and told in tales of woe, God has visited me. Listening, I have learned to lead, follow, or get out of the way. That is the wisdom flowing from God’s mouth to my ears—and yours!

♦ ♦ ♦

Dear God, I look to the heavens and watch as rain and snow fall upon the earth, sometimes gently, at other times with a ferocity that frightens me. I look to the ground for hints of sprouting life when my own existence seems dull, dreary, and sodden with discouragement. I watch for seedlings to take hold of their bit of ground, root in it, and grow. As I wait, both in wonder and weariness, I begin to trust again that your word in me will also root itself. I believe once more that it will give me nourishment and the courage to continue. I trust that you will not let that word grow fallow or return empty to you. And I love you for being God. Amen. ♦

Fran Salone-Pelletier holds a master’s degree in theology. She is the author of a trilogy of scriptural meditations, Awakening to God: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives, from which this selection is taken. She is also a religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer, and grandmother of four. Reach her at

Image: Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses, June 1889
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