“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” — Psalm 95, 7-8; Hebrews 3:7-8
When I was about 14, I heard a homily by our pastor, Fr. Joe Limanni. It was Lent, and we had just prayed this Psalm in the Responsorial. The melody was simple but haunting. Father talked about how this short phrase was so powerful, because there are many times during the day we hear the Holy Spirit nudging us to do little things, to take little steps towards holiness, and yet we often ignore His pleadings in pursuit of our own goals.
I imagine it was this way in Jerusalem at the time of Our Lord’s Passion. Just a short time prior to His trial and execution, the people had lined the roadways, singing His praises and giving Him homage. They loved Him for the miracles He wrought, the mercy He proclaimed, and for the countless ways He’d taught them to grow closer to His Father. They were in love with Him, enamored by Him, an wanted Him to be their King. They were open to the Holy Spirit, all of those times He taught them and fed their souls. They heard His voice. Their hearts were receptive.
What a difference a few days can make! This same crowd, these same people, were shouting for His death. “Crucify him!” “Let His blood be over us, and our children!” Their hearts were hardened towards Him, full of rage and jealously and hatred. How quickly they’d forgotten His love for them.
How often are we guilty of this? Of forgetting everything He has done for us – the love, the mercy, the blessings, the grace? When we sin, we allow a disruption of His communication with us. Sin makes it harder for us to hear the Voice of God. It’s like static on the radio, when you can’t quite tune in the station. You hear snippets, but not the whole message. Sin is static between us and God. The longer we go between Confessions, the more intense the static, until one day, we can’t hear Him at all. We forget what His Voice sounds like. We only hear Noise. Who specializes in Noise? The kind of Noise that blocks out God? Satan, that’s who. In the Noise, we hear the clamoring of everything wrong with our lives – our failures, our disappointments, our suffering. The Noise chokes out our memory of God’s goodness. Our hearts become hardened. We are the crowd crying out for blood.
Have you made it to Confession yet this Lent? If you haven’t, there’s still time. There’s still an opportunity to adjust the antenna, to tune in clearly, and to hear the Voice of God again. You can soften your heart – you can hear Him calling you to Holiness. Will you answer?