Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Venite exultemus

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.” - Psalms 95:8-9

Psalm 95 is known as the Invitatory to those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It is the first prayer I say every day. It is an invitation to sing praise to God our salvation. Toward the end of the Psalm, the above verses are proclaimed which tell of Israel's lack of faith at Meribah and Massah.

After the Israelites had been freed from bondage in Egypt, they travelled for years in the desert. At one point in their travels, they camped at a place called Rephidim where there was no water, so the Israelites grumbled and complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt only to make us, our children and our livestock, die of thirst?" At this Moses asked God for help, to which God replied by sending Moses to a rock. Moses struck the rock with his staff as God had commanded and water flowed from the rock. Moses named the place Meribah and Massah which mean "dispute" and "temptation", for it was at this place that the Israelites, despite seeing all God had done for them, disputed the presence of God and tempted him.

In the Psalm, these verses are a call to repentance, to return to God. They call us to be open to the Lord, to trust in him who has led us through our lives. During times of trial and distress, we are to move forward always trusting in God's guiding hand. As Israel had to fight the urge to return to their former lives of bondage in Egypt, something that was familiar to them as opposed to wandering in the emptiness of the desert in an attempt to reach an unknown destination, so we must fight the temptation to return to our former lives, lives which though familiar hold no promise for us. The promise, our hope, lies in the future, a future that is vast and unknown, sort of like a desert.

The verses immediately before the ones listed above say, "For he is our God and we are his people, the flock he shepherds." If God is our shepherd, we must trust him to provide what we need and have faith that he will lead us along the right path. As with Israel, we will wander and lose faith, so Lent is a time to reflect on our path. It is a time to turn to God, to repent, and this will assure us of the right path which will lead us straight to the promise of the future which is hope.

St. Turibius of Mongrovejo, pray for us.


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