"Yahweh is better than a fortress in time of distress…"

(Nahum 1. 7)

We are a deeply deceived people.
Our problem is much bigger and much more serious
than having or not having a car-house-DVD player-money-career.
Our problem is that everyday, whether we like it or not,
we have to taste our selfishness.
Every day we realize that we have a heart of stone.

The truth is we are divided within ourselves:
we wish to love
we know that it is better for us to love
But we cannot do what we know is best for us.
We are bound up.
Like Lazarus dead in a grave.

Why is it so hard to love?
Because loving means accepting the other as he is.
But even though sometimes I really try hard
I do not succeed in accepting the other
when he is tearing me down.

I cannot accept those who are on the opposite side of the fence in politics.
I cannot accept those who pretend they are always right.
I cannot accept my boss who is always creating more work for me.
I cannot accept my wife who always does exactly the reverse of what I say.

Why cannot I accept them?
Because with their defects, their ideas and their behavior
they are destroying me
and I do not want to be destroyed.
After all, I have only one life.
Their defects and their sins
are making me suffer because they are hurting me.
And I do not want to suffer.
I have gone through enough pain in life, I can not suffer more…
Yes, I wish to meet the other,
I wish to accept them.
But in order for me to meet the other I have to die
to my ideas, to my principles, to my likes
And I simply cannot die.

This is our real illness.
The letter to the Hebrews explicitly relates
that due to the fear of death
man becomes a slave of the devil all his life.
How true it is that Egypt,
the place where I go to find shelter,
soon becomes the place of my slavery!

What can I do?
Is there anyone who can free me?

Yes - Saint Paul exclaims - there is Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ fought a gigantic fight against the dragon of death
And he managed to annihilate him.
So that now triumphant, He can transmit to us this ability over death.

He entered into death in our place
so that He can hand over to us gratuitously His Resurrection.
The bottom line of this event is that
since death has been overcome
I do not need to fear it any more.
I can die for others.
I can love them.
I can have a spring of living water
which enables me to satisfy the aridity inside and around me.

This is what the Incarnation is all about.
Jesus came into the world not to scare us with the bogey man
or to add more laws
or to keep us quiet…
He came to pull out our heart of stone
and give us a heart of flesh
a sensitive heart
a compassionate heart
a vulnerable heart
a heart that is ready to die for the other.

We need this new heart!
Nothing else really matters.
Having a new heart is everything in life.
Lord, keep doing this surgery in my life.

"This is the covenant I shall make with the House of Israel
when those days have come, Yahweh declares.
Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts.
Then I shall be their God
and they will be my people.
There will be no further need for everyone
to teach neighbor or brother, saying,
'Learn to know Yahweh', No, they will all know me,
from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares,
since I shall forgive their guilt
and never more call their sin to mind.
(Jeremiah 31, 33-34)

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.