After almost 2 weeks of not going, I was able to attend daily Mass this morning. I love going during the week and being fed from Scripture and through the Eucharist.
Christians! Remember to Harden Not Your Hearts
As we are visiting the Denver area, it was not my usual church. Rather, it was a chance to hear another wonderful homily by Father Dennis at St. Joseph’s Parish in Golden, CO. If you visit their website and scroll down, there are audio recordings of past homilies.
Today’s readings have a definite theme of how we are called to NOT allow our heart to harden towards God or other people in our lives.
From the Old Testament (Jeremiah 7:23 – 28) we hear about the people of Israel who have turned their backs on God. Even though they had been told of all that God has done for His people, they “they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.” They bear no head to the string of prophets He has sent.
In Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9, we are called to praise and worship God. All the while we are told, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Finally, in the Gospel (Luke 11:14-23) we see some of the Jewish people questioning Jesus’ actions of casting out demons. Some said it must be the work of a powerful demon ( Beelzebul .) Yet, Christ tells them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” While this is in response to their accusations, he goes a step further when he says, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
What Does it Mean to Harden Not Your Hearts?
When you think about a hardening of your heart, what do you envision?
Is it a heart that is roped off from loving?
Or, maybe a more striking image such as a beating heart turning to stone.
Medically, we can think about how some people have a calcification occurring within their hearts making them strain to function properly.
But, in the spiritual sense, our heart becomes hardened when we no longer allow for a loving relationship to exist between ourselves and another. The other can be a person in our lives, or it can be God.
Therefore, to NOT allow this to occur, we must find a way to keep a healthy relationship with God and others. We have to soften our hearts towards God and others to allow love to flow.
Harden Not Your Hearts: Our Call to Love
There are many verses in the Bible where we are called to love not just God, but one another.
Deuteronomy, Chapter 30 speaks of God’s compassion for the repentant. In verse 6, we are told, “you will love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart and your whole being, in order that you may live.”
In the Gospel of Mark (12:29-32), when questioned on what the greatest commandment is, Jesus told his followers:
“The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The same basic reply is seen in the Gospel of Luke (10:27):
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
This is one of my favorite verses from Scripture.
Harden Not Your Hearts: Forgiveness is Key
I’ve written plenty about reconciliation in the past.
When it comes to softening our hearts so we can experience the free-flowing love God wants for us, forgiveness is key.
We need to forgive others.
And, we need to forgive ourselves.
God wants us to reconcile and restore our relationships. While our relationship with Him is most important, this applies to all relationships. After all, we live in a community, not a vacuum.
Even though I know this is what needs to happen, there are people in my life where my heart is hardened.
Resources for Helping with Forgiveness
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Forgiveness: A Catholic ApproachThe Cross and the Beatitudes: Lessons on Love and ForgivenessThe Name of God Is MercyThe Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of HomecomingLord, Have Mercy: The Healing Power of ConfessionEverybody Needs to Forgive Somebody
Do you enjoy learning about the Saints who have walked before us and we now believe to be in Heaven with God? If so, here is the page for Saints whose feast day is March 23rd. You can start on that page and move to other dates on the website.
Is a hardening of heart a struggle for you?
What are some ways that you strive to soften your heart towards God and others in your life?