Scripture Focus: Isaiah 29.18
In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll,
    and out of gloom and darkness
    the eyes of the blind will see.

Reflection: The Two Ariels
By John Tillman

The term for Jerusalem that Isaiah uses, “Ariel,” holds a dual meaning. In one sense it means, “Lion of God,” and implies a mighty hero or an undefeatable warrior. But it can also mean “Hearth of God,” which refers to the altar in the Temple where animals are slain and the blood flowed down as a symbolic propitiation for the nation’s sins. The two Ariels can represent different possibilities for God’s people.

The city’s loss is lamentable precisely because it was preventable. Their words and voices were quick to honor God. They attended festivals. They gathered at the appropriate times on the calendar. They brought the appropriate sacrifices to the Temple. However, prophets, priests, and people had gradually and steadily turned away from God’s simple requirements of the heart—do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

“Judicial hardening” refers to the way God acts in response to our rejection of him and his messages. When we stop listening, he allows us to choose deafness. When we stop seeking, he allows us to be blinded. When we keep muting God on the radio, eventually he destroys the transmitter. When we throw away his newspaper without reading it, God cancels our subscription.

However, even those blinded and deafened are not left without hope. Isaiah declares that a day is coming when even the deaf will hear, and the blind will see. May we pray, opening our hearts, opening our eyes, opening our ears. A broken and contrite heart, he will not despise.

A Prayer for Ariel (based on Isaiah 29)
Lord, we have come near to you only with words.
We have honored you in syllables and slandered you with our sins.

We are not the “Lion of God,” a mighty warrior for justice.
We are only a bloody hearth where our sins soak the earth and testify against us.

Our worship is only rules.
Our sacrifice is only tokens.
Our intelligence is of no account.
Our riches are filth.
We are a rebellious pile of broken pottery
That refused the shaping of your hand.
Forge us, Lord.
Remake us, Lord.
Turn us upside down.
Leave no stone-cold heart unturned and unwarmed by your love.
Let us, the blind, see. That the wayward will gain understanding.
Let us, the deafened, hear. That we who complain will accept instruction.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
In your great mercy, O God, answer me with your unfailing help. — Psalm 69.15

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 29 (Listen – 3:55)
3 John 1 (Listen – 1:51)

Read more about A Worn Out Welcome
When we go into the house of the Lord, is God glad we have come? How can we tell if we have worn out our welcome in God’s house? 

Read more about Forgiveness to Soften the Hardened
There is no level of spiritual achievement or growth at which one is not susceptible to hardening of the heart and the spirit.