“It was owing to the hardness of your hearts,” said Jesus, “that Moses gave you this direction;
an unyielding heart
blocks good news
before it is thought
for this consistency
we will not break
nor heed an angel
here “sorry” limps
wandering ever deeper
through withering wilderness
a resolution always away
on a moveable horizon
short-circuited before it’s time
by the quickest fix to hand
Induration, hardness of heart or obstinate stubbornness is the import of σκληροκαρδία, (sklērokardia).
We’ve all had a touch of this when we, for one reason or another, get stuck in a one-way answer to life’s perplexing questions. Our very attempt at cutting through the clutter, instead sets up a wall around our thinking and feeling. Whether we are protecting a secret or defending a principle, it is easy to get caught in a web of justifications.
In humans, sclerosis is a hindrance. In plants, the equivalent of lignification is a benefit. It strengthens cell walls and assists with the transport of water throughout the plant. It assists in helping plants store carbon, which in today’s changing climate is an extra benefit.
This beneficial use of hardening is a simple reminder that we are never dealing with a simple situation. Behind a blessing of relationship there are untold mysteries. Within a blessing of ending a relationship are also untold mysteries. The issue of commandments and the development of allowances to be made because they are too cookie-cutterish when it comes to the dynamics of life—commandments are made for our lives, not our lives for the sake of a commandment, no matter how primal we think it might be.
Commandments, like aspects of any legal system derive from ungrounded idealism in real lives or a reaction to an event with an attempt to constrain its reoccurrence. Either way there is a recognition that some form of control is required to hold a larger system in place.
So, using the allowance noted by the Pharisees as a commandment, Jesus identifies an indifference to others as a key for the way we excuse turning our back on one another and whole groups.