The Heart

22 Pentecost
First reading and psalm
: Jer. 31:27-34Ps. 119:97-104
Alternate: Gen. 32:22-31Ps. 1212 Tim. 3:14-4:5Luke 18:1-8

A sower goes out to sow, throwing the seed of human flourishing and the secret code of animal diversity, planting and building a divine-rich world (Jer. 31:27-28). Among emerging mysteries known and unknown, the human heart is, if not the greatest, an inexhaustible depth nonetheless. In the flesh of a heart, the flutter of valves, and the pressure of blood, God is writing the Word. The Word became flesh in the flesh of a human heart. There a law is written in the red ink of a Christ-river yet running from the hill of Calvary.

“Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long. … your decrees are my meditation” (Ps. 119:97-99). I keep your precepts and your word, sense the sweet taste of divine speech, the thick honey of understanding and instruction (Ps. 119:103-04). In the balance between human work and divine agency, God makes the first move, travels along the currents of human freedom, which are not truly free apart from God, and then directs the whole story to its proper end. The heart is pure and sees God. Humans are called to love and meditate over the divine Word. We keep the Word. The much greater divine work, however, is hidden. “The Lord is your keeper; … The Lord will keep you from all evil; … The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore” (Ps. 121:5-8).

God will do what he will do, lovingly and unfailingly. What are we to do? We are to “continue in what we have learned and firmly believed” (2 Tim. 3:14). We are to lean over the sacred writings: reading, listening, comparing, memorizing, and imagining. We are to go on in clear sobriety, endure hardship, announce the good news, and carry on in all such good words as we have been prepared to walk in (2 Tim. 4:5). “Pray always and do not lose heart,” Jesus says. Ideally, Christ is cultivated in the heart always, everywhere, and by all. Personally and collectively this requires discipline.

We meditate and study, taste the word and digest its meaning, ruminate on details and rest in the divine presence, render service to our neighbors, pray in private and among the faithful, all to carve out a space, larger and deeper, where Christ may be. And to this story there is no end. Our capacity for Christ may and should deepen both now and into the hidden depths of eternity. The heart ever expands.

Consider Augustine: “At certain internals of hours and seasons we beseech God with words, so that we may admonish ourselves by the signs of these things [what we have recited], and may know how much progress we have made in this desire, and we may inspire ourselves to increase in it. The more fervent the desire, the more worthy the fruit” (Epistle 130 Ad Probam; my translation). This is not about informing or convincing God. Rather, “The Lord wants our desire to be exercised in our prayers so what we are prepared to receive what he is prepared to give.”

Do not worry. God knows what you need and is ready to give it. Christ is your need and your heart his home. Let him make a mansion there moment by moment.

Look It Up: Read Ps. 119. A long meditation on the Law and the Word.

Think About It: Broken and contrite hearts are open. Grateful hearts are open. Generous hearts are open. The kingdom of Christ is within you.

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