February 1, 2021
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Matthew 13: 15-16 NRSV
Both in biblical times, and in our day, the heart is seen as central to both emotions, and the essence of a person’s being. Here, Jesus is speaking to his disciples, and he is lamenting the condition of people’s hearts. He describes their hearts as “dull”. In other places in scripture, those whose hearts are unresponsive to God and to other people are described as “hardened.”
Yet Jesus accurately describes what follows from a dull or hardened heart. The hardened heart begins to calcify the senses. A hard-hearted person is hard of hearing. Jesus does not mean that they literally become deaf! No, he is speaking figuratively. A person whose heart is hardened seems to shut their ears to everything outside of themselves. They don’t want to hear anything other than what they believe.
In the Old Testament, Pharaoh's hardened heart prevented him from hearing God speaking through Moses. The hate blinded him from seeing what God was doing. As Egypt goes through the various plagues, the grip of hate becomes tighter and tighter around Pharaoh's heart. In the end, he ends up bitter, angry, defeated, and hopeless.
What is the condition of your heart? Many of the voices we hear in today’s world are angry, and full of hate. They spring from hardened hearts: both towards God, and towards other people. The temptation is always present to emulate the hatred, spewing it forward. This creates a hardening of one’s own heart.
Yet God does not desire dullness. He does not want our hearts to be hardened. Instead, he invites us to open up our hearts to Him. Let us be ready to listen to the Lord. The God of the universe wants to soften us, and to make us more like Him. When that happens, we can pass on that same love and tenderness to others. May we be open to God’s Word, and to God’s love.
The wonderful news of the gospel is that the Lord can melt even the most hardened heart. There is no heart that cannot be healed through Him. He wants to bring healing to wounded souls.
As we begin this month of February, when many consider the topic of love, let us open ourselves anew to God’s love, and God’s healing power…
Loving and forgiving God, thank You for being the healer of all hearts and souls. May I look to you for guidance, and not the voices that the world tells me are more important. Forgive me when I go along with the crowd, rather than stand firm in You. Help me to be the vessel that leads others to You, and not away from You. Thank You for those you place around me who help me to focus upon you.
With an open heart, I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen