... let's try not to screw this one up.
The minority report from the Israelite reconnaisance crew in today's Old Testament reading (Numbers 13) was the correct one. Joshua and Caleb correctly assessed the situation in stating that the people of Israel, newly liberated from Egypt, were perfectly capable, with God's help, of entering and taking possession of the bountiful Promised Land. They were overruled, however, by the other ten scouts who believed their people incapable of defeating the Canaanites. So, the story goes, this lack of vision and trust doomed God's people to wander the desert for forty years until the faithless generation died off.
We memorialize that mistaken wandering every morning when we pray these words from Psalm 95 in the Liturgy of the Hours to start our day::
“For forty years they wearied me, that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering, they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger: they will never enter my place of rest”
However, we memorialize that mistake in our actions also when we deny the God's willingness or ability to make a concrete and positive difference in our lives TODAY.
As the Psalm also pleads:
If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert, when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test, although they had seen my works”.
Make no mistake, though. It's not God's anger that results in this "stuck-ness." Instead, the fault lies with us. We need to consistently and daily assess our own response (or lack thereof) to God's graces.
Stunted growth, lack of development in virtue, wearied wandering... all of these indicate that we're not yet tapped into God's freely flowing River of Life which is the grace coming through His Son Jesus. They may be the signs of spiritual dryness.... a place we need to leave in order to fully enter the Land of God's Promise to us. Consult your local spiritual director for details.
I used to be ashamed of my former life, the fact that for many, many years I claimed godliness but lacked the power and the practice of it. But now that I have begun to see some fruit of grace, I can look back and see where I've come from.
How did I get to this place? It was only through the unmerited gift of God as it got applied to my life through the practices recommended by Holy Mother Church. Daily Mass, the Rosary, Chaplets of Divine Mercy and Frequent Confession are not the causes of God's grace, but for me they are its conduit.
So, today if you hear God's voice, harden not your heart.