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Soften My Heart, Lord
(Optional Memorial of Saints Pontian, Pope, and Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs)
Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, by your Holy Spirit grant me the grace of entering into this time of prayer with you. I want to know you better, love you more, and follow you more closely.
- From the Beginning: From the beginning, God created the human person for communion, both with God and among each other. In our fallen world, this call to communion is deeply tried on all sides. Wounded hearts, families, relationships—is there any family or marriage, any relationship, untouched by division of some sort? Yet the call to communion is still written upon the innermost flesh of our hearts and made possible by the redeeming grace of God. The very call to communion between persons is a reflection and expression of the communion with God that each one of us is called to. From the beginning, and even in spite of sin’s entry into the world, God has wanted it to be so—and his grace makes it possible.
- Hardness of Heart: So great is the reach of Christ’s redemption that even the hardness of our hearts cannot unwrite the plan God has for the world. His plan is that his own heart may one day reign in all hearts: God has promised us through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts” (Ezekiel 36:26). His response to hardness of heart? Not rejection, but redemption. It is the daily knock upon our hearts, which he references in the book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Blessed we are, indeed, that he does not tire of waiting for our answer.
- For the Sake of the Kingdom of Heaven: Those to whom it is granted can accept this truth, said Jesus. Even in a fallen, hurting world–in our world, in which sometimes it seems “love” is the most misused, least understood word–it is possible to accept this truth. How can that be? What is more powerful? Those things which prevent and damage this call to communion between persons, those things which seem to make us incapable of it, those who reject it—or the kingdom of heaven, which God has already established and continues calling us toward each day?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you know this world, this heart—and what great need there is for you. We need healing in our own life and family and in so many marriages, families, and priestly and consecrated souls in the world. Come with your grace and renew our hope that love is possible. And give me the grace, today, to imitate you in love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I ask you to enlighten and soften the hardness of my heart in a particular relationship where it may be hindering my love.
For Further Reflection: You may appreciate an essay written by St. John Paul II, touching on many of these themes, “A Meditation on Givenness,” available at this link.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.