Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Little Something Extra...Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

In Our Hearts

In today's First Reading from Deuteronomy, we hear part of Moses' farewell instructions to the Israelites. He is about to die, and he knows it, so he wants to give the people some good, sound advice, advice that applies just as much to us as it did to them. Listen again to what he says.

“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep His commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.

“For this command that I enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.” 

Moses first tells us to listen to the voice of God. Where do we, as Christians, hear this voice? We hear God's voice in the Scriptures, which are the inspired Word of God written for us. We hear His voice speaking through the Church, which is guided by the Holy Spirit. We hear His voice in the liturgy and the sacraments, in which we receive His grace and His indwelling presence. We hear His voice in the depths of our hearts, where our conscience whispers God's message to us. 

Moses then reminds us to keep God's commandments and statutes. When God tells us to do or not to do something, we must obey. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, and every commandment or statute He gives us is for our own good. We might think that such rules take away our freedom and prevent us from finding fulfillment, but actually, the opposite is true. God's commandments and statutes allow us to experience true freedom, which is the freedom to be holy and to develop an intimate relationship with God. 

Third, Moses challenges us to return to the Lord, our God, with all our heart and all our soul. We have all walked away from God at some point in our lives. We have all sinned, and we all continue to sin, for we are human and weak. But God is waiting with open arms to welcome us back whenever we repent and turn to Him. We must, however, be sure to return to Him with our whole being, heart and soul. God wants all of us, every part of our lives, every thought, every word, every action. Everything should be directed to Him for His glory and in His love.

How will we be able to listen to God's voice, keep His commandments, and return to Him heart and soul? Moses assures us that such things are not too mysterious or too remote for us. We already know what to do and how to do it. We don't have to go searching up in the sky or across the sea to figure things out. We just have to look inside ourselves. God has written His law on our hearts. It's part of our very nature, part of who we are as His creatures, made in His image. Because of our sin and weakness, we often need help to discern and understand that law inscribed deep within, but it is there nonetheless. We are designed to hear God, to obey God, and to turn to God. It's part of who we are. He made us for Himself. Our job is to pay attention, to clear out all the interior cobwebs and noise that block our inner eyes and ears from seeing and hearing what is right in front of us and then to act on what we find deep down inside. As Moses says, what God wants “is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” Amen.

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