Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

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The Psalms were the first prayers that Jesus learned from Mary and Joseph at Nazareth and the last prayer he said on the cross. These were the prayers he said in the synagogue and temple. These were the prayers he knew by heart and cherished.

It is not surprising then that the Psalms permeate the Mass, in the Entrance Antiphon and the Communion Antiphon and in the Responsorial Psalm. The Responsorial Psalm for today is: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Our journey of faith begins with a call from God. The call may have been as spectacular as the flash of light that blinded Paul on the road to Damascus. It may have been as ordinary as the whispering sound that Elijah heard on the mountain. Perhaps it was so subtle that we didn’t realize that we were being called. And Jesus had to remind us, “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.”

This call from God is not given just once and for all. It is repeated many times during our journey and in many different ways. We must learn to recognize it and respond to it. But how do we recognize the voice of God? Don’t expect God to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Now hear this.”

God speaks to us in nature. Creation speaks in exclamation point of God. “Every bush is burning.” “The hills are mute but how they speak of God…” Because God is omnipresent everything is a sacrament, a visible sign of the invisible God. God is transcendent, immanent and transparent in creation.

God speaks to us in Scripture. The Scripture is not only the record of a call from God it is also creative of a call from God. This was the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”

God speaks to us in ourselves by grace, an illumination of the intellect and movement of the will, in quiet inspirations and insights, in the events of our lives, the people we meet, the places we go and the things we do.

God speaks to us especially during quiet time when we are alone with Jesus, when we put everything else on the back burner and give ourselves completely to God, when we let go and let God “whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” When we just become aware of the presence of God, rest in the presence of God and enjoy being in the presence of God.

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” Yes, we can harden our hearts. Grace is like a ray of sunlight. It makes a difference if it hits a wall and bounces back or if it hits a window and goes in. It is like a drop of water hitting a sponge and penetrating it or hitting a rock and bouncing off.

We can harden our hearts by sin. I learned that a few years ago when I was hearing the first confessions of the school children. Their teacher gave each one a rock with their name on it. When they went to confession they would give the rock to the confessor. After they made their confession and received absolution they went to the altar said their penance and then received a soft, bright red heart. It was obvious that it was sin that had hardened their heart. If must have been obvious also to the parents who were present because they were also moved to go to confession.

We can harden our hearts by filling it with material things. The mind is something like a computer. The inexorable law of the computer is “garbage in garbage out.” We cannot fill our mind with material things and expect something spiritual to come out.

So, “If today you hear his voice harden not your heart,” let go and let God “whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” You may be surprised at what you hear.

© 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J. all rights reserved