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 and place a new spirit within you. (Ez 36: 25-26)
These verses appear pretty regularly in the morning prayer of the Church so I come across them frequently. But one day, the phrase that says, “I will give you a new heart,” caught my special attention.
The People of Israel who first read those words — I wonder how that impacted them. Giving someone a new heart would have been unthinkable in those days. And even now, hearing about heart transplants is newsworthy since it involves a rather serious and complex surgical procedure.
In this prophecy the Lord isn’t speaking about a new physical heart, of course, but, rather, a spiritual heart. But, it got me thinking, what would a new spiritual heart mean for us? What difference would it make?
Perhaps a new heart would mean that we have a new, more personal relationship with God. We would see him not as some faraway, omnipotent entity, but rather our loving Father who embraces us, who really cares about what and how we’re doing. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant to imply when he told us to call God “Abba,” sometimes rendered as “Daddy.”
Perhaps a new heart would mean that we become more compassionate and less judgmental, that we strive to understand and care for others, and that we give people the “benefit of the doubt” whenever possible. It would empower us to forgive those who have offended us, hurt us, in the past.
Perhaps a new heart would lead us to repent of our sins and enable us to move beyond our faults and failures. We – all of us – have done sinful, stupid and embarrassing things in the past, but it’s wrong to let those things hold us down forever. A new heart would help us to acknowledge the imperfection of our humanity but also to celebrate the good that is within us.
Perhaps a new heart would fill our days with new-found peace and joy, confidence and hope rather than the anxiety, anger, and division that too often weighs us down.
Yes, indeed, there are many reasons for us to pray for that new heart and new spirit that God promised to give us.
Something to think about: How would a “new heart” change your life?