Reflection from First Reading Jan 15 ‘The Soul Institute’ Harden not your heart

“The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, ‘They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter into my rest.’”
Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,”
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.”

Pope Francis in his book, ‘The Way of Humility Corruption and Sin’ writes, ” I have been making a distinction, which may be dangerous, between sin and corruption; still, all in all, it is a true one. And yet it has to be said that the path that leads to corruption is sin. How so? It is a subtle kind of progression, or rather a qualitative leap from sin to corruption. The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us: ‘See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it the many become defiled’ (Heb 12:15) Obviously he is speaking here of something more than sin; he is pointing out a state of corruption. Ananias and Sapphira sinned, but it was not the sin of weakness of heart, but of corruption: they were cheating, trying to trick God (Act 5:4) and they were punished precisely because of the corruption created in them by their fraudulent actions.”

Pope Francis tells us sin can be forgiven. A corrupt or hardened heart has to be healed. The reading gives us the stages of how a heart become corrupt. Often a person has a painful experience. The person who has the painful experience makes a decision to harden or not harden their heart. We read, “The Holy Spirit says: ‘Oh, that today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” The Holy Spirit speaks to our heart words of mercy, love and forgiveness. Pope Francis said recently, “Only the Holy Spirit can soften our heart.” If we resist the Holy Spirit words of mercy, love and forgiveness eventually our hearts become corrupt and hardened. The sad truth is that if our hearts become hard, our sin of hardening our hearts is greater than the sin committed against us. This is what the author of the first reading means when he says, “Take care, brother and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourself daily while it is still ‘today’ so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.”

Pope Francis writes, “Corrupt people do not notice their own corruption. It is the same as when people have bad breath: they seldom realize it themselves. Other people can smell it and need to tell them. Hence, also, it would be hard for someone who is corrupt to escape from the state through inner repentance. Their good spirit is anesthetized. Generally, our Lord saves them through means of trails that come from situations they experience (illness, loss of money, loss of loved ones, and so forth), and these are what pierce the armor of their corruption and enable grace to enter. Then they can be saves.”

Question for the day: Have we allowed our hearts to become hardened? Do we have a soft heart?

Prayer for the day
Holy Spirit crush my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh
I repent of all the ways that I have resisted the voice of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
Holy Spirit if I have allowed my heart to become hardened through the deceit of sin, I give you permission Holy Spirit to do whatever is necessary to heal my heart.
Blessed Mother Mary take away my heart and give me your heart.

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