Hardened heart is unfaithful and slanders the Lord

The Pope warned against having a heart that does not listen to the voice of the Lord, saying, by doing so for "days, months, years", it becomes hard like soil without water.  And when there is something that one dislikes about God, he or she discredits and slanders Him.

Risk of infidelity
The Pope said that many times we are deaf and do not listen to the voice of the Lord, but always listen to the news and the gossip of the neighbourhood.

In the First Reading from the Book of Jeremiah, the Pope said, we hear God’s lamentation regarding the "stubborn people, who do not want to listen".  Instead of listening and turning to Him, they close their ears, turn their backs to Him and proceed obstinately according to their evil hearts.

The Pope drew attention to the First Reading where God recalls how with great care He sent His prophets to his people but they did not listen to them.  Instead, they stiffened their necks and did worse than what their fathers did. 

The Pope said that in the day’s liturgy, the Church wants each one of us to examine our conscience on our faithfulness to the Lord.  It is not about attending Sunday Masses.  It is about being aware of not allowing our hearts to turn hard, stubborn and deaf, shutting the Lord out and doing what we want.  

The Pope explained that a person with a hardened heart does not just stop at being deaf to the Lord.  Unhappy with the things of the Lord, he or she puts God aside with an excuse and discredits, slanders and defames God.

For or against Me
Citing the day's Gospel, the Pope said Jesus had the same experience with the people. When Jesus performed miracles and healed the sick, the stubborn people said it was through the power of Beelzebub, the leader of demons.  First, one refuses to listen to the Lord and then discredits Him.  This, the Pope said, is the penultimate step of the refusal of the Lord.  The last step from which there is no return is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, pointing to the warning of Jesus at the end of the Gospel.

The Pope noted that just as the prophet ends with the clear words - "Faithfulness has disappeared" – so too Jesus ends with the words that can help us: "Whoever is not with me, is against me".

The Pope said that one cannot be with Jesus and be at a distance.  Either you are with Jesus or you are against Jesus; either you are faithful or you are unfaithful; either you have an obedient heart or you have lost your fidelity.

The Holy Father urged each one to examine their conscience.  The words - "faithfulness has disappeared" and "whosoever is not with me is against me" – hold out hope for us, the Pope said.

Return to the Lord
This hope, the Pope said, comes in the Acclamation to the Gospel where Jesus invites each one of us saying, “Return to me with your whole heart, for I am gracious and merciful.”   “I will forget everything.  I care that you come to me, and forget the rest.”   The Pope concluded inviting all to open their hearts for the Lord to enter, because this is the time for the Lord’s mercy and compassion.