How do we change our hearts?
John Killinger tells the legend about "the simple shepherd's pipe once played by Moses when he kept his father-in-law's flocks. When the pipe was discovered, many years after Moses' death, it was decided that it should be put on display for the benefit of his admirers. But it looked far too common for such an important purpose, so someone suggested that it be embellished by an artist. A few centuries later, when the pipe was given a new home in an upscale museum, a committee said it needed improving yet again. So another artist was employed to overlay it in fine gold and silver filigree. The result, in the end, was a breathtaking piece of art, a marvelous sight indeed. It was so beautiful, in fact, that no one ever noticed that it was no longer capable of the clear, seductive notes once played upon it by Moses.
In today's Gospel, the voice of God the Father, from the enshrouding cloud, offers Peter, James, and John simple, straightforward words: "This is My Beloved Son; listen to Him."
How can we discern which voices to listen to, whose advice to take, which directives are important, and what we should just let fall on deaf ears? God's proclamation to those three disciples rings true for all who follow Christ today: Let Jesus be your high-tech hearing aid, filtering and clarifying what you hear and how you respond. Listen to him.
During Lent, we do penance by giving up something or by fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. Ironically, God never asks us “to do” any of this for him. God only asks us to return to Him. It is about repentance – the changing of one’s heart. The changing of one’s heart is manifested externally in fasting, almsgiving, prayer, mercy, forgiveness, justice, etc. These external acts are empty if the changing of one’s heart has not occurred: “Rend your hearts, not your garments.” We hear this on Ash Wednesday as we begin our Lenten Journey. Although it is much easier for us “to do” some external thing, God asks of us the more difficult and lasting thing: to change our hearts. This is the only thing God wants from us. So, how do we change our hearts?
God tells us how to do this. Listen to Jesus, just as God the Father instructs us to do in today’s Gospel. Begin by reading the daily scripture readings. Spend time allowing His word to speak to you. Get to know Him as a friend.