Have you heard of the Bird Box Challenge? There is a movie on Netflix starring Sandra Bullock where she has to keep a blindfold on herself and her children because if she looks at this evil spirit, they will be driven to despair. It is an apocalyptic type of movie. There is this trend going on right now that people put a blindfold on and record themselves doing either ordinary things or really stupid things.
For example, one girl in Utah did it while driving her car and crashed into someone else. So, do not do that! Netflix had to actually issue a warning asking people not to do the Bird Box Challenge. What I want to talk about today is the real bird box challenge that we all have, which is discernment of spirit: knowing how to hear the voice of God and knowing when we hear the voice of the enemy.
What is really cool in the movie (and really ties in with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord) is the scene when they are riding on this canoe together, and they capsize and split up. So, Sandra Bullock, who is wearing her blindfold, has to find her kids, and they have to find her.
She gave them advice at the very beginning of the movie. I want to read it to you, and I want you to think about this being advice for coming to mass and advice for listening to the word of God. This is even good advice for parents to tell their children before coming to mass. You will laugh if you pay attention.
In this powerful monologue, she says to her children: “Listen to me because I am going to say this once. We are going to make a trip now. It is going to be rough. It is going to feel like it is going to go on for a long time, so it is going to be hard. Stay alert. It is going to be even harder to be quiet, but you have to do both. You have to do every single thing I say to you, or we will not make it. Do you understand?”
Ultimately, that is true for life. We have to be so connected with the voice of God – otherwise, we are going to be taken off course, and we will not make it. During the sacraments is when we come and hear the voice of God. In the readings, you heard the voice of God. You heard the voice of God in the prayers.
Sometimes, it is not until afterwards that we hear the voice of God. When Jesus was baptized in the river, John the Baptist baptized him. In the gospel today, it is very interesting that he went off to pray. It was when he was praying that the heavens opened up and this great beam of light came down. He heard the Father’s voice like thunder saying, “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.”
See for us, there is always someone vying for our attention. There is always someone that we are trying to please. If it is not God’s voice, it is going to be someone else or something else that is going to capture our hearts. It is very important that we pay attention to the voices.
All of us are on this journey of life right now. We are journeying it together. Sometimes God will speak to us in the mundane, and sometimes he will speak to us in really extreme moments. Often it is not until after we pray and be still and be silent that we hear his voice. It is so important that you understand this. It is so important that we listen and know his voice because if we do not, the enemy can take us on very bad paths.
None of us follows the enemy because we think it is a good idea. We follow the enemy because in some way we are lured into that. We think that there is something here that we want, or there is some approval that we are seeking. What I love about the movie Bird Box is that it is all about listening to that voice. It is interesting because they are using walkie-talkies. This is before the age of cell phones. I used to use walkie-talkies.
It was funny because when you speak through them there is often times static. So, you will speak and say, “Did I hear that right?” Sometimes it is like that in the spiritual life, but here is the thing with God’s voice. When God speaks to us, it is so clear. There is no static. There is no disturbance. It just resonates to the core of our being. So, when God the Father said to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased,” it came like thunder. It was strong.
Here is the interesting thing about the enemies. It can sound like God at first. When the children are looking for Sandra Bullock, the enemy is using her voice to lure them. But, there was something very interesting occurring. There was a little bit of static. They would start to listen and hear static. Then there would be a little bit of static or disturbance in the hearing.
That is how we can tell the enemy’s voice. Maybe it is something that you are doing, and you feel like it is right. You feel like it is God, but there is just a little bit of doubt: Hmmmm. I am not quite sure about that. That is really good evidence that it is not really the voice of God because the voice of God will come like thunder, and it will be strong.
On the feast day of the Baptism of the Lord, we realize that we are all called to hear the voice of God and to live in that voice. It happens here at mass. It is so important that we spend time in prayer and silence every day and listen because, ultimately, that is when we hear the voice of God. Do you understand? Listen.