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Break This Heart of Stone

First Reading: Ezekiel 36:23-28

Thus says the LORD:
I will prove the holiness of my great name,
profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
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.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (Ezekiel 36:25) I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.

Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying,
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

NAB

aug 18

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.

I spend several minutes lagging behind a driver who is going at least 5 miles below the speed limit, in the fast lane and suddenly I’m hurling insults and thinking of the worst possible reason of why they could be driving so offensively slow, clearly just to annoy me!?

I’m gathering laundry into the basket to wash and fuming at the gall of my husband to throw his socks in front of the basket instead of directly into it. Surely, he did this just to get on my nerves.

I find an empty wrapper tossed into the sink. Could we not use the trash can?? For heaven sake, it’s closer than the sink! Never mind that the person responsible for this is merely two years old and is still learning the difference between the trash and the sink. She was attempting to be responsible after snack time.

By bedtime, my heart has turned to stone. I have allowed this place within me made for love to become inflexible.

I have neglected mercy. I have forgotten to practice that very thing which allows my heart to grow and remain pliable.

It has hardened because I have not relied on His grace. I have not allowed my heart to be vivified by the Holy Spirit’s action, but turned inward to my own selfish thoughts, attempting to see everything through the lens of vanity.

But my heart of flesh can only remain supple when I live in union with Christ.

Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.Redemptor Hominis by Pope Saint John Paul II.

I need His help to return to a life of love, a life of mercy. I need Him to break this heart of stone and return it to its natural state.

Lord, restore me. Help me to have mercy on others, on myself. Give me a heart of flesh that lives in You and for You alone. Amen.

photo credit

Laurel Muff is a creator and appreciator of beautiful things. She resides with her husband and daughters in Northern California. You can find more about her here.

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