Lent Week 2—Friday – Psalm 95 Genesis 43:1-15 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 Mark 4:35-41
All of today’s Lenten readings are quite thought provoking. The appointed Psalm, which is Psalm 95, of which, the first seven verses are the Venite is quite familiar to all of us. The Old Testament reading in Genesis 43 tells the story of the sons of Jacob (Israel) and their decision to return to Egypt for more grain, but, this time, taking their brother Benjamin. The Epistle from The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians is the uncomfortable discussion of conjugal relations between man and wife and the benefits of celibacy. Finally, in the Gospel of Mark, we hear the story of Jesus calming the great storm and questioning the disciples about their faith.
In all of these familiar readings, the words that most caught my attention were in the simply phrase – “Harden not your hearts”. That phrase consists of just four words. They are right there in Psalm 95, but in verse 8. The verse immediately after the Venite which ends at verse 7. The Venite is so joyful and powerful and inclusive and invigorating. Then the words: “Harden not your hearts”. They just seem a bit out of place, but the contrast gets my attention.
It seems that now, in day to day life, there are just too many hardened hearts. Hardened hearts are everywhere and are especially evident in our interpersonal interactions. Hardened hearts are not a biblical abstraction but a part of our everyday reality. It seems that we are not putting much effort into Un-hardening our hearts, or maybe, softening our hearts toward our fellow man. I doubt that there is some magical way that we will really change this attitude in our society. But, I think, that individually, on a very personal basis, we can make a conscious effort to un-harden our heart to others that we encounter.
It will make a difference in that one relationship. And then, it will, perhaps, make a
difference in another relationship, and then another, and it will grow. We are here on Earth to do the work of Jesus. We must be the ones that begin this change individually. This is required of us. We are directed to do it. Lent is a time of preparation and change. The time for change is now. The command is right there in Psalm 95, verse 8: “Harden not your hearts”