The words of the Psalmist resound loud and clear, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Preserving a soft heart in a world of hardship is a daily battle. The natural impulse is to harden and toughen our hearts to endure constant strife, disappointment and offense. A soft heart in this world, would seem a weakness or vulnerability. However, today’s second reading says that “love is the fulfillment of the law”. In other words, love is justice; love is the way. And if we choose the way of love, our hearts must be yielding, malleable and sensitive to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. While a hardened heart may guard us from being hurt and disappointed, the Lord calls us to be boldly soft-hearted, even if this may be costly and painful. He desires a heart that feels his presence, hears his voice, responds to his promptings, and is mouldable in his hands. He calls us to tear down the walls, surrender our defences and strip our hearts bare.
Today’s Gospel proclamation declares a powerful word: “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” If we then bind ourselves to resentment, revenge, bitterness, and/or even apathy, then we have chosen for ourselves an eternal imprisonment within these plagues. If we instead loosen ourselves from such strongholds, and bind ourselves to forgiveness, grace and compassion, heavenly reinforcements will follow.
A soft heart in the eyes of God is far from weakness and is any- thing but a setback. A soft heart, in his eyes, is a place where heaven and earth can meet. A soft heart houses his love, and when we choose love, we choose unity. And Jesus promises “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
As written in Ezekiel, the Lord calls the gentle-hearted to be his watchmen. That is, to move in him, and thereby watch over his people. The instruction is: “when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.” A stubborn heart would limit us in this mission, for brittle things are hard but easily breakable. A brittle heart cannot bend to his will or be shaped into a vessel. A yielded heart; however, is pliable, and can take whatever shape or form as desired by the Father. It can be stretched like a net to catch his people in his love.
Let us ask the Lord to show us where our hearts are still brittle due to past experiences. Let us ask that any stiffening agents like anger, unforgiveness or offense be removed, and that our hearts be made tender and gentle just like his.
Prayer: Abba Father, may my heart be open to your voice. Amen.