Mass Reading & Meditation for January 23, 2013
Meditation: Mark 3:1-6
Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr
. . . grieved at their hardness of heart. (Mark 3:5)
We all know what it’s like to have soft, loving hearts. Who can look at a new baby and remain unmoved or indifferent to the gift of this precious life? How often we find ourselves wiping away a happy tear as the bride and her father walk down the aisle. A heartfelt Mother’s Day gift can make us forget all the frustration our children may have caused us.
At the same time, we all know that it is possible to grieve the Lord by our hard-heartedness. He wants to see his children treat one another with love, and it hurts him to see us divided and at enmity. What’s more, he knows that when we are hard-hearted toward other people, we often find ourselves closing our hearts to him.
Sometimes, like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, we are unwilling to give the other person the benefit of the doubt because we insist on keeping the rules. We let laws and regulations trump human need and understanding of people’s unique circumstances.
This strict adherence to the letter of the Law grieves the Lord because it runs the risk of cutting us off from treating people with the love, reverence, and dignity they deserve. It grieves him because when we focus only on rules, we risk missing God’s presence in new and unexpected ways. We miss seeing Jesus in the eyes of the needy. We miss the Holy Spirit catching us off guard and showing us new ways to share his love. And we miss out on the opportunity to follow God down new roads of ministry.
When a drought has hardened the ground, a heavy thunderstorm may just wash away the soil. Only a sustained but gentle rain can soak deeply into the ground. Similarly, God wants us to let the tears of his grieving fall on those areas where our hearts may have become hard. He wants us to feel his own sadness so that we can be softened and learn to love as he loves.
Jesus is always pouring his grace upon us. If we get into the habit of spending sustained time with him, he can lead us to a liberating experience of repentance that softens our hearts and turns us into his ambassadors.
“Jesus, I want to have a heart softened by your love. Lord, I want to love as you love.”
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17; Psalm 110:1-4