Rebels, hard of face, obstinate of heart, a rebellious house, and lacking in faith. Both in the Book of Ezekiel this Sunday and in the Gospel, God's word is sent to unreceptive hearts, hearts that were hardened. God sees and knows our hearts. Do we know our own hearts? Do we know if our hearts have become hardened by obstinate disobedience, lust, anger, resentments, pride, sloth, envy, greed, gluttony, or other sins? So rebellious had the Hebrew people become that you could see it in their faces. Ezekiel describes them as "hard of face."
Sin is rebellion against God. The more we yield to sin, the more obstinate our hearts become. How many people in the world stopped speaking to somebody they loved years ago? If you asked, "Why did you stop speaking to one another?" they will often answer, "I don't remember exactly." It is the same way with God. When we give ourselves over to some sin or another, it is like pouring cement into our hearts. Slowly, they become impenetrable to the Truth. They become rebellious towards God's law. We become insistent that the "The Church is wrong and I am right."
As crazy as it sounds, quite often when we give ourselves over to sin, we try to prove ourselves right, by pouring ourselves into it wholeheartedly. We go from "making a mistake" or from "falling down" into a full-blown rebellion. The person who fails to go to Mass on a particular Sunday goes from that to saying, "I don't need to confess that before receiving Communion again." The married person who violates the marriage vow soon becomes the person announcing to the world, "I have the right to be happy. The children will get over it." The man who is angry and resentful instead of opening himself to God's grace and peace tries to get the rest of the world stirred up as well. He is no longer content to be bitter and angry alone. He won't rest until everyone is bitter and angry!
When our hearts are rebellious, they hinder God from working within us. In the Gospel we are told that no mighty deeds could be worked in the town because of their lack of faith. They heard Jesus' wisdom and marveled at it. But, instead of those words being accepted and becoming the source of miracles, they were rejected. Why? Because the hearts of the people were hardened.
The Psalms say, "If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart." We cannot break through the concrete of our own hearts. We can only ask Jesus to take away our stony hearts and to put a new heart within us. Today the Lord is offering a new heart. Rebellion against the Lord and his commands leads to a heart that his hardened, distant from God, and miserable. When we rebel against God, his word, his commands, and his Church, we act against our very selves. We destroy ourselves. The heart that welcomes God's word is a heart in which Jesus performs mighty deeds.
If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.