12 January 2017
The Holy Spirit says: If only you would listen to him today; do not harden your hearts, as happened in the Rebellion, on the Day of Temptation in the wilderness, when your ancestors challenged me and tested me, though they had seen what I could do for forty years. That was why I was angry with that generation and said: How unreliable these people who refuse to grasp my ways! And so, in anger, I swore that not one would reach the place of rest I had for them. Take care, brothers, that there is not in any one of your community a wicked mind, so unbelieving as to turn away from the living God. Every day, as long as this ‘today’ lasts, keep encouraging one another so that none of you is hardened by the lure of sin, because we shall remain co-heirs with Christ only if we keep a grasp on our first confidence right to the end.
A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.
“Keep encouraging one another”
In an earlier reflection, I talked about not going to church for a few years. This situation came about because I had been particularly distraught at the failure of a personal relationship. I had been angry with God for abandoning me; for leaving me in a position that I did not want to be in.
The first Sunday, there was a tinge of guilt as I stayed away from the mass and proceeded to push that thought out of my mind, telling myself that I would return once I had gotten over my anger.
The second Sunday, it felt easier for me to stay away from the church. I could do what I wanted; remain in bed and watch television, go out with my friends and enjoy myself!
Soon, the thoughts of God had all but faded from my mind; I no longer prayed, and before I knew it, my Christian values no longer felt that important to me. I began to spend time with friends who were worldly, and I too started acting like them. I had become unaware of God, and His love for me.
I figure this was what Paul was talking about in the first reading today. Once we turn away from God, our hearts begin to ‘harden’ and staying away from Him becomes easier.
Eventually, I returned to church and immediately experienced God’s love for me again. Through the mass, I found myself letting go of the anger and over time, changed for the better. I changed my ‘friends’ and found myself a community of loving, faithful brothers and sisters.
May we always be sensitive to the temptations to turn away from our God, to think that it was okay to miss that one mass. Let us find a faith community that will watch, guard and pray for each other, and be willing to correct each other to continue on the ‘straight and narrow path’.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Father, help us to be on constant guard against the temptation to turn away and rebel against You. May You help us find strength in community and Your Word for guidance.
Thanksgiving – Thank You, Father, for never giving up on us. Thank You for being there and loving us.