ROME — Hearts hardened by ideology, selfishness and arrogance leave no room for God, Pope Francis said.

“The Lord only goes in hearts that are like his heart,” that is, “hearts that are compassionate, open,” the pope said in his homily Feb. 18 during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark in which Jesus warned the disciples against sharing the rebellious and corrosive attitudes the Pharisees and King Herod had toward Jesus.

Pope Francis said that during Jesus’ time, there were people like the Pharisees who had a “hardened heart in order to promote a plan that was not God’s. There was no room for God’s plan, there was no room for compassion.”

A remedy for a hardened heart does exist, he said, and it is remembering Christ’s mercy and compassion.

A heart becomes hardened, he said, when “one forgets the grace of salvation” that is given freely without merit.

God wants mercy, not sacrifices and “a heart without compassion is an idolized heart, a self-sufficient heart that goes forward, held up by one’s own ego, that becomes strong only with ideologies,” the pope said.

“A hard heart leads to fights, wars, selfishness, the destruction of one’s brother because there is no compassion,” he said.

“The greatest message of salvation is that God had compassion for us,” Pope Francis said; realizing that should be like a “slap” or wake-up call for a hardened heart.

“Each one of us has something hard in the heart. Let’s remember and may the Lord give us a heart that is just and sincere,” open and compassionate, he said.

Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.