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Lord Open My Heart
Wednesday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time
Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I offer today’s prayer for those whose hearts are hardened to you, recognizing also where I need to open more to your healing grace.
- Jesus’s Anger: See Jesus’s incredulity over the nearsightedness and hard-heartedness of those who accuse him of healing on the Sabbath. His anger is justified. But Jesus’s anger is not merely human anger. It’s a sort of divine wrath as well. His anger reminds us that only one thing blocks the heart of God from mercy–hard-heartedness. It renders Jesus powerless to do the primary mission for which he came–the salvation of souls. Hard-heartedness distances us from the Lord, the source of all life. What a responsibility freedom can be–to be made in God’s image to such a degree that we can choose to be open or closed to our own fulfillment and salvation present in the very person of Jesus.
- A Rising Tension: As Jesus continues to “scandalize” the law-enforcing religious of his time, the devil seems to delight in fostering self-righteous, narrow-minded, and hard-hearted responses. A growing tension ensues, escalating eventually in plots, treachery, arrest, and execution. The enemy will stop at nothing to snuff out the possibility of life, and Jesus is its source. That’s why when we embark on a serious path of following Christ, we can experience temptations to turn back, to give up, to quit. It can give us compassion for those who, despite having climbed great spiritual heights, find themselves fallen. Jesus never promised that the path would be easy, but he did promise that he would be with us always.
- The Open Hand: Jesus points out that it is better to save a life than destroy it, no matter what the circumstances are. He tells the man with the withered hand to stretch out his hand, and then he displays his healing power for all to see. The man, for his part, stretches out his hand. The gesture teaches us a life lesson. We may not feel capable of the action, but with God’s command and our obedience, healing takes place. It takes one gesture, which begins with humility, the humility to obey and open our hearts, just a little. God does the rest.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, enlighten my mind to recognize the ways in which I am hard of heart and lacking obedience to your divine will. I bow before you in humility and ask that you open my heart where I feel incapable of opening it. I offer my own prayer and struggle for those who are closed off to your saving grace.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will give thanks for your mercies in my life and look for one way I can be obedient to you, whether it is in the fulfillment of my duty as a spouse, parent, coworker, etc.
For Further Reflection: Pope: A Hardened Heart Can’t Understand God’s Mercy.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala