Daily Office Readings for Thursday of the 1st Week after the Epiphany: Year 2
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works” (Hebrews 3:7 – 9)
Today if you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. I think it takes a minute to discern where the inside voice is coming from. We can call it conscience, or in my case, pondering, or whatever. The point from the Hebrews reading is that we need to at least acknowledge the voice and heed it.
I have found that listening deeply requires me to check my emotions. I have to ask myself, how am I feeling? Am I disturbed about something? Am I nervous about something? I must also ask myself if I am overjoyed about anything. All of these moods or emotions could alter what the Spirit is saying to me. Such clearing of the mind requires contemplation, meditation and often just sitting quietly alone. I recall the words of Blaise Pascal: who said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I modified his words to read, “All of humanity’s problems stem from each person’s refusal to sit quietly in a room alone.
Aside from the gender references I want to acknowledge that it is not so much the inability to sit alone, but our flat out refusal to do so. I think this is the hardness of heart that the Hebrew writer warns against. Sometimes we can be so stubborn as to not allow ourselves to be open to pondering about what is right and loving to do. You should try it. Sometimes we just need to shut everything off and be still. And yes, know that God is God.(Psalm 46:10) A hardened heart is a blockage to the voice of the Holy Spirit. We all, from time to time, need to step away from the fear of change and the conviction that we are right, and be open to what the Spirit is saying to us.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John