Brett Fawcett


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 1, 2015
Deuteronomy 18.15-20 | Psalm 95 | 1 Corinthians 7.32-35 | Mark 1.21-28
January 26, 2015

Every morning, the first words on the lips of countless priests, religious and laity are the opening lines of today's psalm: "Come, let us sing to the Lord, and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us."

This "invitatory" psalm, so called because it invites us to prayer, then encourages us to "listen to his voice."

It is wise to begin every day with this reminder. We often forget to stop what we are doing and allow ourselves any silence – or, if we do, it is often only so that we can refresh and strengthen ourselves (many modern techniques marketed as "meditation" focus on this), rather than opening ourselves up to listen to God's voice speaking to us from the depths of our sanctified soul.

O that today you would listen to God's voice. – Psalm 95.7

'O that today you would listen to God's voice.'

Psalm 95.7

Why don't we listen more? Maybe because that still, small voice sometimes discourages us from taking an action we were moving towards, or that prompts us towards an action (or a revelation about ourselves) we were trying to avoid.

It is easier to drown out that voice with busyness. Hence, the psalm warns "Do not harden your hearts," which is what we do when we find ways to avoid spending time alone with God.

Certainly, the Israelites had this problem. In the Old Testament reading, we learn that, when they heard God's voice from the mountain, they were so afraid that they asked never to experience him in a direct, unmediated way again. "Never let me hear the voice of Yahweh my God or see this great fire again, or I shall die."

From that day on, Moses had to act as go-between for God and Israel. No wonder: When God came down to give the law, his perfect holiness was revealed in a blaze of fire and glory.

In his presence, the Israelites must have felt the way a delinquent child feels when his parents sit him down to express disappointment in him, or the way an addict feels when her friends stage an intervention for her: Exposed, embarrassed, humiliated, uncomfortable.

It was much easier to get God's messages from Moses than from the Lord himself.


Yet God loved his people and pursued a relationship with them anyways, promising to raise up a prophet greater than Moses who would also stand between himself and Israel, and "I shall put my words into his mouth."

Today's Gospel shows that prophet in all his might: His teaching and authority are so powerful that even the demons obey him.

But God has played a trick on us: This prophet meant to be an intermediary between God and his people is, in fact, God himself, come down from the mountain to live among us, not merely to expose our sinfulness but to remove it, and thus remove the barrier between us and him.

The voice from the mountain is now the voice from the cross, and if today you hear that voice nudging you from your conscience, harden not your heart.