THURSDAY OF THE FIRST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
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 for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.’ As in my anger I swore, ‘They will not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.” Therefore in my anger I swore, “They shall not enter my rest.”
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
We begin reading the word of warning by the Holy Spirit not to harden our hearts. The psalm carries the message, "Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me."
They people were unfaithful and it is a warning to us as well. God's character is perfect faithfulness and He nevers fails us. He never fails His word. But we are far less faithful. We go astray and are weak. Even though we try our best, we are incapable of perfect holiness and fidelity.
But God in His mercy wants to redeem us. We are all unclean in our sinfulness like lepers. But Jesus can make us clean and does cleanse us in our baptism. Like lepers, we then must go forth to obey God's word.
In the gospel, Jesus tells the cleansed leper not to speak of him. The leper did not obey him and made it impossible for Jesus to walk freely among the people.
Perfect obedience is so difficult for us and it is often manifested in our speech. What happens in our hearts will come out of our mouths. The leprosy of our sinfulness is removed from us in baptism and we must guard our hearts to receive the word of the Lord and obey Him in our lives everyday. Let us pray today that our hearts be softened with gratitude to God for His word and His healing so that we are able to obey Him faithfully.