January 17, 2019
by Larry Hopp
Creighton University's Energy Technology Program, Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot
Lectionary: 308

Hebrews 3:7-14
Pslams 95:6-7c, 8-9, 10-11
Mark 1:40-45

Praying Ordinary Time


What is the status of our hearts?  Have we allowed our hearts to become hardened?  That question requires some deep, honest reflection for me.  I love my church family and see Sunday morning as the high point of my week.  But is that enough?  What does a hardened heart look like and how can we recognize it in ourselves?

Today’s readings along with the life of Saint Anthony, Abbot, clearly tell me that simply hearing the word and living my life among fellow believers is NOT ENOUGH.  The message in Hebrews reminds us how important our hearts are to God.  The Jewish people certainly appeared to be faithful with their many rituals and sacrifices, but all of those actions could not hide the true status of their hearts.  God knew their hearts and punished them severely for their “evil and unfaithful hearts”.   The responsorial Psalms continues this warning against hardening our hearts. 

So where do we turn to discover how to determine the status of our heart.  As with everything else in life, the only true source for this answer is God’s word.  In our Gospel reading today from Mark, we see Jesus giving us the answer – do God’s will.  That simple, that profound, that challenging !  Jesus’ life on earth was spent responding in love to the world around him.  He provided the clear, powerful answer to developing and maintaining a heart for God.

The life of Saint Anthony provides an insightful example of one man’s effort to follow Jesus’s example.  He was deeply moved by Jesus’ answer to the rich man in Matt. 19 where he told him to sell everything and give to the poor.  Anthony was not content to simply listen to the word, he actually followed it to the letter, selling everything and living the remainder of his live as a monk in the Egyptian desert.  His radical faith and complete commitment to God not only provided inspiration to many, it also provided him with a zeal for life each new day.

So where does all this leave us today?  We know that God never changes, so we know that the condition of our heart is crucial to Him.  Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to live our lives – to have a heart that is always open to Him and His will for each of our lives.  We need to faithfully study his word - his examples - and then go out and DO IT.   Our actions each day tell the true story of the status of our heart.

Dear Heavenly Father give me the wisdom to know your will for my life and to FOLLOW IT.   I know that it does no good to simply know your will if I do not go out and follow it, to put your love into action. 
Thank you for your patience and love.
In Jesus’s holy name, Amen

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