How often this refrain from Psalm 95 appears in the liturgy. And how often we ignore it assuming it doesn’t apply to ourselves as ordinary Christians. But it does!
The Good News of the Gospel is not complete with the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Good News continues onto the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father and Jesus at Pentecost. Indeed, the descent of the Spirit upon the disciples is the culmination of the Paschal Mystery. Now through the Holy Spirit the Kingdom of God is present on earth!
And this descent has profound implications for Christian life. The Spirit totally transformed the lives of those disciples gathered in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews — the frightened apostles now became fearless witnesses of Christ. And the descent of the Spirit upon Christians through faith and baptism has equal implications. We are transformed and become new creations in Christ. Paul does not hesitate to dub us “Temples of the Holy Spirit” and “the Body of Christ.”
Through the Spirit we receive a new identity! How then are we to live this new identity? Paul exhorts us to respond to this new interior law of the Spirit of Christ written on our hearts -- and not simply to be observant of the external written law. And the Church teaches that this voice of God emerges within our consciences. Listen to this message from Vatican Council II from “The Church in the Modern World.”
“For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man: according to it he will be judged. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of man. There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths. In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and love of neighbor.”(paragraph 16)
God guides us directly through our consciences! We are invited to listen and to respond to God by attending to the deepest voice within us — God’s! And so we have the immense counter-cultural challenge of arranging our busy schedules to include regular rhythms of withdrawal from activity to be in silence and solitude with our God.
Our model for listening is Jesus himself. Jesus regularly left the crowds and went off alone to be with his most dear Father. In these desert places Jesus found communion with God and strength and guidance for his life. Recall especially the forty days in the desert after his baptism by John before beginning his public ministry and the prayer in Garden of Gethsemane before his passion and death.
Like Jesus we are called to listen -- and to respond -- to God’s voice: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook