Pope: May God "soften the heart" of people who condemn everything that is "outside the Law"
They have a "hard heart" and "do not know that God's tenderness is capable of removing a heart of stone and putting a heart of flesh in its place." "We are" the two disciples of Emmaus "with so many doubts," "so many sins," who often "want to distance ourselves from the Cross, from the trials" "but we have room to feel Jesus warming our heart."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) May God "soften the heart" of people who condemn everything that is "outside the Law", people who do not know that God's tenderness is capable of removing a heart of stone and putting a heart of flesh in its place, said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. He was reflecting on the First Reading, on the martyrdom of Stephen, "a witness of obedience," who like Jesus obeyed until death, and precisely for this reason was persecuted.
Those who stoned him did not understand the Word of God. Stephen had called them "stubborn", "uncircumcised in the heart and in the ears," and calling a person "uncircumcised" was the equivalent to "pagan". Francis then asked those present to reflect on the different ways of not understanding the Word of God. For example, Jesus calls the Emmaus disciples "foolish", an expression that is not praise but is not as strong as that of Stephen: they did not understand , they were fearful because they did not want problems, "they were afraid" but "were good", "open to the truth." And when Jesus reproaches them, they let his words enter and warm their heart while those who stoned Stephen, "were furious," they did not want to hear. This is the drama of the "closure of the heart": "the hard heart".
In Psalm 94, the Lord warns his people by exhorting them to harden not their hearts and then, with the prophet Ezekiel, makes a "beautiful promise": to change the heart of stone with one of the flesh, that is, a heart "that he can feel” and “receive testimony of obedience ". "And this causes the Church to suffer so much: closed hearts, stone hearts, hearts that do not want to open, that do not want to feel; Hearts that only know the language of condemnation: they know how to condemn; They cannot say, 'But tell me why do you say this? Why this? Explain this to me …'. No: they are closed. They know everything. They do not need explanations."
Jesus also reproaches that this has killed the prophets "because they told you what you did not like." In fact, a closed heart does not let the Holy Spirit enter. "There was no place in their hearts for the Holy Spirit. Instead, today's reading tells us that Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, understood everything: he was witness to the obedience of the Word made flesh, and this is what the Holy Spirit does. He was filled [with the Spirit]. A closed heart, a stubborn heart, a pagan heart does not allow the Spirit to enter and feels self-sufficient."
The two disciples of Emmaus "are us," said the Pope, ""We are" the two disciples of Emmaus "with so many doubts," "so many sins," who often "want to distance ourselves from the Cross, from the trials" "but we have room to feel Jesus warming our heart." To the other group, those who are "locked in the rigors of the law," who do not want to hear, Jesus spoke so much, saying "worse" things than those given by Stephen.
Francis concluded by referring to the episode of the adulteress, who was a sinner. "Each of us comes into a dialogue between Jesus and the victim of these stone hearts, the adulteress." To those who wanted to stone her, Jesus only says, "Look inside you."
"Today, let us look at this tenderness of Jesus: the witness of obedience, the Great Witness, Jesus, who has given life, so he can help us to see God’s tenderness towards us, our sins, our weaknesses. Let us enter into this dialogue and ask for the grace of the Lord to soften the heart of those who are rigid, those people who are always closed in the Law and condemn everything that is outside of that Law. They do not know that the Word has come into the flesh, that the Word is witness to obedience. They do not know that the tenderness of God is capable of moving a stone heart replacing it with a heart of flesh."