The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalm 95:8). The call to be open to the promptings of God’s presence and action shouldn’t come as a surprise because we constantly hear it expressed in some form. That doesn’t necessarily make it easier to hear, let alone to do! An open heart is willing and eager to serve the Lord, and a closed or hardened heart is positioned to resist or even defy the Word of God as Jesus calls out to us. In this weekend’s gospel, Jesus confronts the presence of evil spirits who embody such resistance: “Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Our resistance to God’s grace is usually more subtle than that, as we wrestle internally with how to respond to particular opportunities or situations. It helps to identify what are our own stumbling blocks, temptations, and challenges in order to clear a path so that our hearts are open to hearing the voice of God.
This week, we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, which is, for those of us who were taught and formed in Catholic Schools, an opportunity to give thanks for the blessings we experienced and the lessons we learned there. I am a product of nearly 25 years of Catholic education (grades K-8, high school, college, seminary, and post-graduate studies), and who I am today is due in large part to those formative years. Whether you are a graduate of a Catholic school or not, all of us have reason to celebrate Catholic schools, because they have been part of the fabric of the Church in the United States since the earliest days. Here in Baltimore, the Catholic school system was founded by our own Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Many schools helped to form and strengthen parish life for generations, and here at Saint Joseph, our school has been an essential part of the parish since the beginning of the 20th Century. Let us pray with gratitude for God’s continued blessings upon Saint Joseph School and all our efforts to teach the Catholic faith.