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Hearts of stone and hearts of flesh

By Br Mark O'Connor FMS, 3 July 2020
Image: Shutterstock.com/Soyka

 

We are all called to convert from a “heart of stone” and replace it with a “heart of flesh” and mercy.

It is reported that St Francis de Sales, on meeting people in Geneva, would ask them: “How is your heart?”

I have often felt like asking the same question of some people in recent days – as I have read their comments on our Diocesan social media pages.

For example, one young person made the vicious calumny that Pope Francis is a “heretic” and was then surprised and aggrieved that there is no room for such “comments” on a Catholic website.

What sort of de-formation leads a young Catholic to justify such behaviour? What on earth is going on in such a young person’s heart to speak that way of our Holy Father?

And most importantly, who are the people (behind the scenes) spreading such advice to this type of impressionable young person?

It’s very clear the real problems of this small minority – who delude themselves that they are ‘orthodox’ believers – are essentially psychological.

Let’s face it. The problems of most of us are rarely ‘theological’. They are rooted much deeper— in a disordered and diseased ‘heart’.

That is why St John Chrysostom tells all of us: “Find the key to your heart; you will see this key will also open the door of the Kingdom.”

Sadly, one does still come across those who act as if they believe the opposite. They are already ‘in’ and they seem to want to close the doors and keep the ‘others’ out. Effectively they want to throw away the ‘key’!

It’s bad enough when this happens in our wider society and the ‘stranger’ – often in the person of the refugee in peril – is excluded.

It’s worse when it occurs amongst the followers of Jesus.

The real scandal is that this small vocal minority so self-righteously oppose our Holy Father, as he preaches Gospel mercy and compassion.

I shudder to think of how many have ‘left’ the church, because of the meanness and rigorism of these so-called ‘good ‘Catholics whose specialty is judgemental gossip.

Thankfully, the People of God is also blessed with so many healing pastors, laypeople, and those in consecrated life – everywhere spreading the Good News. They are the silent majority and deserve more praise and support.

It’s very simple. Pope Francis is encouraging us to ‘take heart’ – to repent, confess our failures honestly and re-focus on the Gospel of Mercy.

We are all called to convert from a “heart of stone” and replace it with a “heart of flesh” and mercy. The merciful Father – whom Jesus of Nazareth called his Abba – unlocks our hearts and graces us to discover the Kingdom coming in the ordinary lives of so many good people all around us.

That is the ‘key’ which unlocks the ‘door of the Kingdom’. Try it….social media is just another form of self-administered ‘poison’ without it…

“Find the key to your heart; you will see this key will also open the door of the Kingdom.”

Br Mark O’Connor FMS
Vicar for Communications
Diocese of Parramatta

 

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