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Monday, August 16, 2004

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St. Stephen of Hungary

Ezekiel 24:15-24
Deuteronomy 32:18-21
Matthew 19:16-22

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the only hope for the human heart

"Thus the word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, by a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears." —Ezekiel 24:15-16

Ezekiel's wife suddenly died. The Lord told Ezekiel not to show any signs of mourning his wife's death. This was a prophetic witness to show the hardheartedness of God's people, who "couldn't care less" about the destruction and desecration of the Temple, and the fall of Jerusalem (Ez 24:21ff). Ezekiel's prophetic witness was unsuccessful. The people rotted away because of their sins (Ez 24:23).

The Lord may have given Ezekiel this unsuccessful mission as a prefigurement of His own death. Jesus died crucified and generally ignored and unmourned. However, He broke open hardened hearts through His death, the supreme expression of perfect, forgiving, unconditional, infinite, divine love. Now even all humanity with our hardened hearts can have new hearts (see Ps 51:12) if we turn to the pierced, sacred heart of Jesus. We do this by giving our lives totally to Jesus, being baptized, and living our Baptisms daily and deeply.

The Lord promises: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart" (Ez 36:25-26). If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart (Ps 95:7-8).

Prayer:  Father, immerse me into the burning love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Promise:  "Jesus told him, 'If you seek perfection, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor. You will then have treasure in heaven. Afterward, come back and follow Me.' " —Mt 19:21

Praise:  St. Stephen, king of Hungary, loved the poor and instituted a system of tithes to relieve their suffering and hunger.

Reference:  (We are offering Healing the Broken-Hearted: A Retreat for the Divorced, Sept. 17-18, 2004. For information or to register, e-mail retreats@presentationministries.com or call 937-587-5464.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Richard L. Klug, January 16, 2004

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 26, 2004