14 January 2021

Hardening the heart

1st Week OT (R)

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

St. Dominic Priory, NOLA

What is it “to harden one's heart”? My doctor tells me that dealing with HBP over a long period of time will force my heart muscles to stiffen. Like working leg my muscles at the gym. He assures me that this is the one time when I don't want to work my muscles too vigorously. A stiff heart can't do the job of circulating blood smoothly. In the same way, a stiff heart (spiritually speaking) can't receive or properly circulate God's graces through the person. Hebrews tells us that hard hearts result from unfaithfulness, a routine rejection of God's guidance and help. This is the kind of stubbornness that Ps 95 reports and Hebrews quotes. God's people stood firm against His graces at Meribah (provocation) and Massah (temptation), falling into the vicious habit of testing God despite having experienced His mighty works. So, to “harden one's heart” is to forget all that God has done for us. It is to stand stubbornly against His will and to test His faithfulness by daring Him to abandon us. How do we avoid hardening our hearts? We follow the example of the leper: we kneel, begging Him, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”

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