Combating Hardness of Heart

Thursday of the 1st Week of ordinary Time


Heb 3: 7-14; Mk 1: 40-45


Dc. Larry Brockman


Those Old Testament Jews, they had such hardness of heart amongst them, didn’t they?  For 40 years the Lord worked miracle after miracle for them- deliverance from a much more powerful people; pillars of fire; God talking out of a cloud; manna for food coming out of the sky; water from rocks; and even staffs turning into snakes.  And yet, they didn’t get it.  Although they experienced all of these works of the Lord’s and more, they really didn’t hear the voice of the Lord and follow His precepts.  They never seemed to remember the lessons taught by the Lord the previous day or week.   Every day was like a new birth for them; it’s almost like they were saying to themselves:  “A miracle yesterday, yes;  but what miracle will you work for me today so that I will believe”?  You see, hearing means more than just awareness when it happens.  It means actually responding to what you hear.  And so, we hear the message not once, but twice in today’s scripture, that:  “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts”.

Is our world, our generation, our parish, our congregation making the same mistake?  Do we harden our hearts when we hear the Lord’s voice?  In its wisdom the Church proclaims the teachings of the Church consistently and persistently- teachings on our responsibilities to grow in our faith, to serve others, and to love our neighbor; teachings on abortion and sexual morality and social justice.  And do we respond?  Or do we just hear with a little “h”, and then go on with our daily lives as if nothing happened, waiting to be fed with the next miracle before we are shaken out of a sense of complacency or preoccupation?

You know, I really have to admire the leper in the Gospel story.  Most lepers would have been complacent, downtrodden, and consumed with their own suffering.  But this leper was not- he listened to the message of Jesus, a message of change and conversion of the heart and of hope.  And Jesus responded by healing him.  This leper’s heart had not been hardened.

As individuals, we cannot single handedly change the world.  But like this leper, there is something we can do.  We can change our attitude.  We can soften our heart when we hear the Lord, and open ourselves up to respond to the message we hear.  In other words, we can:  “Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today”, so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin”.


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