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*Wednesday 17th January 2024 Daily Reflection and Meditation*
_And he looked round at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart._
*Good morning!*
Is Jesus grieved by the hardness of your heart, a heart that does not want to change? The Pharisees are complaining of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand on a Sabbath. Is it not interesting that they would prefer the man to continue suffering than breaking the law of Sabbath?

The hardness of heart hinders us from doing good, worse still, recognizing it. It even goes further to preventing others from doing good.
Are you a kind of a person that would look and somebody suffer rather than helping him or her?
_Have a blessed Wednesday_
_Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot_
_Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. Mark 3:4–5_
*Readings : 1 Samuel 17:32-33.37.40-51. Mark 3:1-6.*
Sin damages our relationship with God. But hardness of heart is even more damaging because it perpetuates the damage done by sin. And the harder one's heart is, the more permanent the damage gets.

Jesus got angry with the Pharisees due to the hardness of their hearts. They were concerned with following anf fulfilling the law rather than saving lives. Oftentimes the passion of anger is sinful, resulting from impatience and a lack of charity. But when anger is motivated by love of others and hatred for their sin it becomes good anger. In this case, Jesus had a good anger in that he was grieved by the hardness of heart of the Pharisees, and that grief motivated holy anger that drove him to cure this man in the presence of the Pharisees so that they would soften their hearts and believe in Jesus. Sadly, it didn’t work, “The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death” (Mark 3:6).

Hardness of heart should be greatly avoided. Oftentimes, those whose hearts are hardened are usually not open to the fact that they are hard of heart. They are obstinate and stubborn, and oftentimes self-righteous. Therefore, when people suffer from this spiritual ailment, it is difficult for them to change, especially when confronted.

Look into your own heart with honesty. Only you and God need to be part of that interior introspection and conversation. Begin by reflecting upon the Pharisees and the poor example they set. From there, try to look at yourself with great honesty. Are you obstinate? Are you hardened in your convictions to the point that you are unwilling to even consider that you may be wrong at times? Are there people in your life with whom you have entered into a conflict that still remains? If any of this rings true, then you may indeed suffer from the spiritual ill of a hardened heart.

*Reflection:* How is your relationships with others? Beg God to soften your hardened and obstinate heart, that it may heed to the call to compassion, love and mercy rather than being self righteous, condemning, judging and even oppressing for the sake of being right in the standards of the world.

*Prayer:* _Loving Lord, on this day I open myself to the examination of my own heart and pray that You will help me to always be open to change when necessary. Help me, especially, to see any hardness I may have within my heart. Help me to overcome any obstinacy, stubbornness and self-righteousness. Give me the gift of humility, dear Lord, so that my heart can become more like Yours. Amen_
*Happy and blessed day*

_Rev Fr Francis Wambua, SJ_
*Jesuits in South Sudan*