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On February 24, 1948, one of the most unusual operations in medical history took place in Ohio State University’s department of research surgery. A stony sheath was removed from around the heart of Harry Besharra, a man thirty years of age. When only a boy he had been shot accidentally by a playmate with a .22-caliber rifle. The bullet had lodged in his heart but had not caused his death. However, a lime deposit had begun to form over the protective covering of the heart and gradually was strangling it. The operation was a delicate one separating the ribs and moving the left lung to one side. Then the stony coating was lifted form the heart as an orange is peeled. Immediately the pressure of the heart was reduced, and it responded by expanding and pumping normally. "I feel a thousand per cent better already," said the patient soon after the operation.

There is a parable of life here. Our hearts develop a hard protective coating because of accidents and incidents in life. They are coated by the deposits of a thousand deceits and rebuffs. They are hardened by the pressure of circumstance. Inevitably they become smothered and insensitive to the divine. Ever so easily we find it easier to sneer than to pray. It becomes simpler to work than to worship. Self-satisfied, proud, often cynical, our hearts need a spiritual operation that only Christmas can perform when we dare to surrender our hearts’ burden before the cradle of Bethlehem (Charles M. Crowe. Sermons For Special Days. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1951, p. 163).

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