4 Ordinary B – January 29, 2012 – Harden Not Your Hearts
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 and Mark 1:21-28
What does your calendar look like? Seldom does a month go by when there is not a day or week dedicated to a civic or religious event. January was very crowded and February is not any better. The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple falls on Ground Hog Day, which is followed by a World Day for Consecrated Life, which happens to fall on Super Bowl Sunday, which is also Boy Scouts Day, which is a week before the World Day of the Sick followed by World Marriage Sunday, which comes just before Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday!
Add these events to our personal calendars, birthdays, anniversaries, school calendars and work calendars, email and text messages, Tweeting and Facebook friending, streaming videos and endless RSS feeds it is little wonder why in the words of Pico Iyer about the “Joy of Quiet”  most of us, young and old alike, would do almost anything to find time and space just to be alone and think.
What I keep hearing some people say in between and after liturgies is that there is simply too much going on in their lives. There is no time for a sacred or spiritual experience much less listening to what God might have to say. The first reading today paints a picture of Moses telling the people that whoever does not listen to God’s word will be reprimanded. He was warning them not to follow the lifestyles of strangers already living in the land promised to the Israelites by God. The psalmist provides another admonition, “If today you hear God’s voice you had better listen.” Maybe we need to look again at all we do to see if there is any connection between spirituality and our never ending stream of information and “to do” lists.
Searching for spirituality is a popular pastime and most writers agree that Christian spirituality is rooted in the word of God. We read or hear the text and are expected to let it soak in and contemplate it without analysis. We try to do so quietly, thinking about the time, the place, the situation in which the text was written. What was the author trying to say to a certain group of people? What is that text saying to us today? Worship can provide us with an opportunity to settle down, pray, and contemplate. Our ritual actions, the tone of the music, the message in the homily, our common prayers can help us enter into a sacred timezone … unless our liturgies are also too busy.
The contemplation of God’s word is the threshold, the meeting room, where we embrace the God who embraces us. Allowing God into our lives can (but not always) cause a transformation in our lives. That conversion makes us want to do something publicly to advance God’s word in society.
We read in the bible that whenever people tuned into what God was saying, something happened to them. If they hardened their hearts their lives were unchanged. Listening carefully to God’s word also can be dangerous. It can cause us to question the status quo, to counter injustice in our communities, to grow in the world of new possibilities. It can challenge us personally — our routines, our habits, our lifestyles. It can even spark debate with family and friends
God’s word by itself does not work miracles; it is not the complete prescription for instant success or holiness. However, when absorbed and allowed to work within us over time, it can be a wonderful palliative for ridding our lives, and the lives of others, of the anxieties, injustices and fears that prevent us from our own human development.
It may be true that there are just too many things going on in our lives. They are not going to go away. We multitask just to keep up. There is no reason, however, to separate those activities, whatever they are, from our spiritual lives. By understanding our ordinary routines as opportunities for spiritual transformation we may find that God is speaking to us in everything we do.
Theologian Teilhard de Chardin once wrote, “We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.”
1 Iyer, Pico, “The Joy of Quiet” in The New York Times, December 29, 2012