Thursday Meditation (Listen To the Still Small Voice! Harden not Your heart!)
“For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man: according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and love of neighbor.”(paragraph 16 - The Church and the Modern World, Vat II) Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time Hebrews 3:7-14 Psalm 95:6-7, 8-9, 10-11 Mark 1:40-45 And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I will; be clean." 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, "See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter. Meditation by Dick Hauser, S.J. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” How often this refrain from Psalm 95 appears in the liturgy. And how often we ignore it assuming it doesn’t apply to ourselves as ordinary Christians. But it does! The Good News of the Gospel is not complete with the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Good News continues onto the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father and Jesus at Pentecost. Indeed, the descent of the Spirit upon the disciples is the culmination of the Paschal Mystery. Now through the Holy Spirit the Kingdom of God is present on earth! And this descent has profound implications for Christian life. The Spirit totally transformed the lives of those disciples gathered in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews — the frightened apostles now became fearless witnesses of Christ. And the descent of the Spirit upon Christians through faith and baptism has equal implications. We are transformed and become new creations in Christ. Paul does not hesitate to dub us “ Temples of the Holy Spirit” and “the Body of Christ.” Through the Spirit we receive a new identity! How then are we to live this new identity? Paul exhorts us to respond to this new interior law of the Spirit of Christ written on our hearts -- and not simply to be observant of the external written law. And the Church teaches that this voice of God emerges within our consciences. Listen to this message from Vatican Council II from “The Church in the Modern World.” “For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man: according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and love of neighbor.”(paragraph 16) God guides us directly through our consciences! We are invited to listen and to respond to God by attending to the deepest voice within us — God’s! And so we have the immense counter-cultural challenge of arranging our busy schedules to include regular rhythms of withdrawal from activity to be in silence and solitude with our God. Our model for listening is Jesus himself. Jesus regularly left the crowds and went off alone to be with his most dear Father. In these desert places Jesus found communion with God and strength and guidance for his life. Recall especially the forty days in the desert after his baptism by John before beginning his public ministry and the prayer in Garden of Gethsemane before his passion and death. Like Jesus we are called to listen -- and to respond -- to God’s voice: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Supplementary Reading New Things Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:13b-14 Our past can be a hindrance or a help in moving toward God's purposes for each of us. For some, the past has meant pain and heartache, and grace is required so that we do not let our past dictate our responses to the future. If we allow our past to make us a victim, then we have not entered into the grace that God has for us. If we live on memories of past successes and fail to raise our vision for new things, we again are victims of our past. "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (Is. 43:19). Our past should only be viewed for what we can learn from it. We must move forward and avoid viewing the negative or the positive for more than what we can learn. Many have allowed their past to dictate their future. God is always about doing new things in our lives. He gives fresh revelation of His purposes in our lives. Do not live in the past. Do not hold onto bitterness that may hinder God from doing new and exciting things in your life. He turns our wastelands into streams of water to give life, not death. How have you viewed your past? Has it hindered you in some areas of your life? Have you relied on past successes to dictate what you will do in the future? Put aside such thoughts and allow God to do a new thing in your life. Ask Him to help you see the new things He wants to do in and through you today. "When your memories are bigger than your dreams, you're headed for the grave" [Author unknown].