Listen to The Voice of Love
The Psalmist refrain for this Sunday's Mass says, "if today you hear his voice, harden not your heart" (95:8). The import of this admonition is worth reflecting upon today. When I think of the word "today," I do not refer only to this day of the Lord, this Sunday that the divine word is proclaimed to our hearing, I imply as well the age we currently live in, a time of division, distortion, disobedience. Our world is painfully divided based on perceptions and ideologies people choose to embrace and live by. Our world is ruled by distorted truth that informs how people act. Our world is made up of people who made deliberate choices in disobedience to our Lord's Gospel injunctions.
The timeliness and urgency of the Psalmist's invocation are illustrated in the parallel between the hardened hearts of the people of Israel to Yahweh's voice and the deafness of our modern culture and society to the Lord's voice of charity. The voice of God, as expressed in the commandments of love, is a call to order. Are we listening to that voice? The voice of love dissuades the wicked from their evil ways. We are called to be an extension of that voice of corrective love, bringing our erring brothers and sisters back to the path of divine love and truth. Prophet Ezekiel reminds us to "speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way," or we will be held "responsible for his death" (Ez. 37: 8). If we love our neighbors as the voice of love instructs, we must call them away from the path of division, distortion, and disobedience because true "love does no evil to the neighbor" (Romans 13:10). The voice of love seeks that we reconcile the world to Christ's Gospel (2 Cor 5:19) and strive to make the voice heard and listened to as we heal wounds of division, distortion, and disobedience in our family, community, and world at large. We must pray that our neighbors listen to our voice of love and are won over to love (Matthew 18: 15). The Lord is speaking to us of love and mercy today. Can we pay attention and listen? Can we pray as the body of Christ for the healing of wounds of division, distortion, and disobedience? If today you hear the voice of love, please harden not your hearts.
The Gospel speaks of praying in common. When two or more members of the body of Christ or in a more specific way, members of a parish come together to pray for a need, God is made present through the Holy Spirit who helps us to pray. We do this as a parish not only at mas but outside of mass. The Knights of Columbus sat around Marian grotto last Sunday after the 10:30 am mass to pray for the unborn. God was present by their prayers, an act of charity, and response to God's voice. I encourage other groups to do the same. If you hear his voice today, harden not your heart.
In Christ's love,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP