That Our Lord deigns to speak, and that we are able to respond in faith—both trace back to the Lord’s mercy. For what is Our Lord’s speech but His Word? And this Word of the Lord—is that not the Son of the Father, who is so united to His Father that He is the Word of God? St John plainly says that the Word was with God, and the Word was God; and that this Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. What Our Lord speaks, then, is not just any noise, but His unbegotten Word. And that He determines to speak His Word means that He is determined to send forth His Word into the ears and hearts of men.
Now, the Word of God goes forth, not by compulsion, not by necessity. For there is nothing that compels the Father to speak; there is nothing that forces the Word of God to go forth; and there is nothing that requires the Word of God to be intelligible to us so that we might know and understand what He says. Yet the Word of God goes forth, nevertheless. And He makes Himself known to us by conforming His heavenly speech to our meager language, and by bringing His unfathomable wisdom down to our level. Why does He do this—unless it is love that moves Him; unless it is mercy that drives Him? For only one reason, then, does Our Lord speak, and the Word of God go forth, and the Spirit of God carry the Lord’s Word into our ears. And that one reason is so that we might hear; and hearing, we might take to heart what He says; and by taking to heart, we might respond with faith and love; and by responding, we might attain the kingdom of heaven.
But how can we hear, how can we take to heart, how can we respond, and so how can we attain? Does not our hearing also trace back to the Lord’s mercy? Is it not the Lord’s mercy that not only sends forth His Word, but also sends us His Spirit so that the Lord’s Word is understood, and so does not die in our ears but bears fruit in our lives?