A Dead Heart for Life

THE HEART OF SCRIPTURE

Not infrequently, I have recommended an easy and fruitful way to study the Bible that along the way gives one much spiritual benefit and food for thought. This particular method simply consists of finding all instances in the pages of Scripture of a key word and meditating upon those that most strike the reader. Today being the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I looked for “heart” in the Gospels on my favorite Bible website to undertake such an endeavor (I narrowed it down to the evangelists because all of Holy Writ has the word 825 times, not counting instances of “hearts,” but you, dear reader, are welcome to go to town with the whole batch). Following are the instances I found most valuable:

  • Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Mt 5:8)
  • For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mt 6:21)
  • Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Mt 11:29)
  • This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me (Mt 15:8)
  • But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. (Mt 15:18-19)
  • And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mt 22:37)
  • Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, `Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. (Mk 11:23)
  • But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Lk 2:19)
  • The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Lk 6:45)
  • And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! (Lk 24:25)
  • He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” (Jn 7:38)
  • And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him (Jn 13:2)

Jesus spoke often of the heart. The disposition of one’s heart says much about the person. Is it pure or does it breed sin? Does it treasure good or evil, God or the world? Do we use it for pondering holy things or is it cluttered with mundane concerns? Do we allow access to it to the Lord or Satan?

Most instructive is the one instance when Jesus speaks of His own sacred heart that is “gentle and lowly.” Humility has been called the “gem casket of all virtues.” With meekness in place, acknowledging God is God, we are not, and all good things come from Him, we protect and develop (through grace) all other virtues. Jesus was God yet He did not regard equality with God something to be grasped (Phil 2:6). If the Second Person of the Trinity does it and shows us the way, how much more obligated are we to have humility of heart?

The second last quote above ties in in a special way with today’s celebration. The “rivers of living water” should remind us of Jesus on the cross. Already dead, the Lord still had more to give in this final indignity — every last drop of fluid in His Body:

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.

Jn 19:33-34

Traditionally, this has been seen as the beginning of the Church. The blood and water representing the two great Sacraments of Initiation, the Eucharist and Baptism. Jesus truly and completely emptied Himself on Calvary: His life given up, His closest collaborators scattered, His clothes given away, His tomb borrowed. Yet, in doing so He gave us everything and promised to be with us always through His Church and in a special way through the Eucharist.

ANOTHER GOOD FRIDAY

It is particularly fitting that on Friday, June 24th, the horrendous federal “right” to kill humans in the womb was struck down after nearly fifty years (NCRegister has done a fine job of covering it). Let us say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for this breakthrough and for all the souls, living and dead, who were so instrumental in fighting the good fight. This is another Friday we can call good. Jesus died on a Friday with His Sacred Heart pierced on that day that we commemorate yearly eight days after Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ). In addition, we celebrate John the Baptist’s birth on this day — he who leaped in the womb at newly pregnant Mary’s arrival, who prepared the way for his cousin’ public ministry, and who was murdered confronting sinful and corrupt authority. He acknowledged Jesus in the womb, spoke boldly of Him in his ministry whatever the cost, and died upholding his convictions.

Jesus and John are splendid examples for us in these days filled with pride and lies. Emulating them, this is no time to be a shrinking violet. It is also no time to remain on the fence. Is Jesus the Lord over all aspects of our lives or not? No compromises on the Truth (no “my” truth and “your” truth). Pray, fast, and be bold in your Catholic faith! Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour (I Pt 5:8). I certainly don’t attribute all sin and vice to the evil one (original sin and its effects continues to do plenty of damage), but abortion is straight from hell. So far, Satan has had it pretty easy on this issue. And there is still plenty of work to be done state by state. But wait for him now to unleash his fury through his minions. We have already had a taste of it, but, sorry to say, we have not seen anything yet. That rat is being pushed into a corner and he will come out rabidly. Stay strong, have the courage of your convictions, and have no fear. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. (Mt 10:28).

One last very important point. The Eucharist was so important to Jesus that He was willing to lose every last follower to its reality (see John 6). Also, He spent the last hours before His arrest instituting the Eucharist and the priesthood that was to continue to provide this sacred banquet till the end of the age. Lastly, as already mentioned, He gave the last drop of His blood to seal the deal (so to speak).

Certain Catholic politicians (and many others, frankly) have put their souls in mortal danger, and scandalized scores of others, by their words and actions in many areas of morality, but particularly regarding their defense and promotion of abortion (see the two most prominent leaders today here and here if you can stomach it). I pray for the president daily and Abp. Cordileone has done well in leading a prayer crusade for Madam Speaker. Until they convert, though, all bishops must follow Cordileone’s lead in banning these two, and others who are similarly outspoken in this evil matter, from receiving Communion. If they cannot find reason or courage to do so, then they should simply resign to a hidden life of prayer and penance. Our shepherds must emulate the Good Shepherd or clear the way for those who are willing to do the challenging work of the Lord.

Fresco by Fra Angelico, Dominican monastery at San Marco, Florence, showing the lance piercing the side of Jesus on the cross (c. 1440)

God bless you.

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