Immersed in Christ: January 14, 2021
Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
Hebrews 3:7-14; Psalm 95; Mark 1: 40-45.
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Hebrews has given us three reasons to seek knowledge of the mind and heart of Jesus through his words: first, who he is in himself as the Son: “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.” Second, what he became for us by taking our nature and experiencing our life, death and sufferings: a credible authority on the way and truth of human living. Third, how he relates to us as the “merciful and faithful high priest” who has compassion for our weakness and intercedes before God on our behalf.
Now the author urges us, on the strength of this, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Jesus is trustworthy, as Moses was, only more so. Moses was a faithful servant bearing witness to God’s household about things to come. “Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son.” All the more reason not to harden our hearts against him as the people did under the leadership of Moses, causing God to swear in his anger “They shall never enter into my rest.” 1
Those who rebelled did not profit from the word they heard, “for they did not receive it in faith.” They hardened their hearts against the message that would have brought them into the promised land. The author urges us to “encourage one another daily... so that no one grows hardened by the deceit of sin.”
Why? Is this just moralizing? An exhortation not to sin? No, it is an invitation, an encouragement to “enter into that rest” which is promised by God. The rest Jesus promised when he said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” And “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John echoed him: “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father.” In union with God is our rest, both here and hereafter, now and forever. 2
The Responsorial Psalm urges us, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” The Liturgy of the Word takes away the “if” and invites us to “hear his voice” at every Mass. For:
in the liturgy God speaks to his people and Christ is still proclaiming his Gospel. And the people respond to God both by song and by prayer.
In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it remains the support and energy of the Church.
God is really present in his word:
The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since from the table of both the word of God and of the body of Christ she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life, especially in the sacred liturgy. 3
Does this appeal to your heart? Does it make you want to listen at Mass?
Meditation: 1. Do I want what God promises — here and hereafter? 2. Do I believc I will find it by hearing and reading Scripture? 3. What have I found in Scripture that has helped me? 4. Have I looked as I should? 5. Now what will I do?
1 See Hebrews 3:1-6 ; Exodus, ch. 17, Numbers, chs. 14 and 20. 2 Matthew 11:29; John 15:4; 1John 2:24. 3 Vatican II, “Liturgy,” no. 33; “Revelation,” no. 21.