Open heart, open mind

Published 7:00 am Saturday, November 5, 2016

Most of us have been faced with the unpleasant attribute of stubbornness.

It is that predilection towards, “standing one’s ground,” or “putting a line in the sand.” Often, if the person sensing the condition is other than ourselves, we too may be called stubborn, or even difficult. Frequently, we assure ourselves, this has little to do with either moniker, as our resolution and purpose is clear; at least to us.

Being resolute, on an issue of true moral importance, is not what this subject is all about.

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The shifting sands of today’s modern moralities are often a result of the stubbornness of the human condition, refusing to understand another’s viewpoint and, certainly to not agree with it. Pride, clearly is an significant aspect in all of this.

Who has not experienced the attitudes of a recalcitrant child, or the actions of an undisciplined pet? Indeed, we adults have a certain proscription of patience to apply to their misbehaviors. Even our judicial system notes the special condition of the juvenile mind in its prosecutorial pursuits. Yet, it is an axiom, within these arenas, that the mind and heart will mature and individual responsibility is more greatly ascribed.

We have great proofs that they do not. Who has not seen the aggression of some self-appointed dictator, or their confidants?

Here is the dilemma of we, so-called, adults. We have the, shall we say, arrogance, to assume we have made the grade. In other words, we have come to the conclusion we are fully formed and complete in all of our details, or that least in the necessary majority.

Regrettably, if the studies are accurate, we are creatures of very regular habits and use a daily vocabulary of around 300 words.

Such is the pabulum normal-ness of our lives and the mundane regularity of our time in it. As we age, we may languish and embrace the axiom, “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.” Of course, this is perfect hogwash, and an excuse for a closed heart and closed mind.

The ancient Proverb, “You are never too old to learn,” carries a succinct admonition to the stubborn. It directs and implies that all of us are not all-knowing. It acknowledges and allows us to have impaired thoughts, emotions and yes, souls.

While the saying does not outright condemn us, it does challenge us to be more open to the truth, relevant thoughts, and opinions of others.

This does not mean we always have to agree, but have to have our hearts and minds open enough to more clearly understand and learn in the process. In the doing so, we expand our understandings of God and His creations.

Christ Jesus did not come upon this earth to be on anything other than ‘His Father’s business,’ as the 12-year-old told His astonished earthly parents in the Temple at Jerusalem.

As we read, in Holy Scripture, His stubbornness was only about the very sinfulness of our hearts and of our minds. Over and over again, He sought to educate those who followed Him, changing their hearts and minds and rejecting those who stubbornly would not accept Him as the Son of God.

Opening our hearts and minds, to His truth is what He seeks for us each day.

Stubbornly allowing our pride to interfere with His call to us, only condemns us to being further and further away from Him. The English author, C.S. Lewis, once said, ‘All sin begins with pride,’ so let us consider stubbornness is the first brick in the wall of our separation from God, and His salvation.

By Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins