Thursday in the Second Week of Lent
[Scripture Readings: Jer 17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31 ]
Our shortest prayers are enough to receive God's forgiveness. But our longest prayers will never be enough to express our gratitude for God's mercy. Since God is so forgiving, how is it possible for anyone to die in grave sin and go to hell?
St. Bernard teaches that it is possible because of stubbornness. In his sermon on Conversion1, St. Bernard describes three steps in the hardening of our hearts: first, the devil tempts us to shut our eyes to our own frailty, making it easier to fall; second, he tempts us to deny our sinfulness after a fall, so that we will not confess it; and third, he tempts us to stubbornly persist in our sins until it is too late.
In today's parable the rich man did not cry out for God's forgiveness. He only cried out for a little relief from his torments, a single drop of water. But Abraham's response applies to the rich man as well as to his five brothers, when he says, ” … they will not listen … neither will they be persuaded.” They are all stubborn in their sinfulness.
Thanks be to God for the gift of frequent confession to save us from the hardening of our hearts.
1. St. Bernard, On Conversion, Commentary of Psalm 90, Cistercian Fathers Series, #25, 204f