Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Shaping the Human Heart
What kind of heart do you have? How is your heart functioning?
The heart is the vital organ of life. A healthy heart makes for a healthy and vigorous person. But that is not the whole of it. Ancient Jews and early Christian communities considered the heart imaginatively. For example, the heart is like rich soil. When the soil is watered, the seeds grow and life flourishes. When the heart is hard, it cannot receive the seed. It becomes sclerotic. A hard-hearted person sucks the breathe of life away. Every heart needs moisture — either ample rainwater or copious human tears — in order to blossom and bear life.
The heart can also be vain. A self-focused, self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-referential heart just overwhelms family and friends. No one wants to hang around someone who is small-hearted.
The heart can be fickle, possessive, and greedy. Desire can settle for the ephemeral, the superficial, and the silly. Some hearts are set on possessing super-abundance and having more, and more, and more. How much is enough? When is the heart sated and satisfied?
Having and doing miss the mark. What matters to God is being — being big-hearted, generous, just, kind, compassionate, loving. Christians are those lavered in the lovely water bath of baptism. Dying and rising, life is hidden in Christ. Christ is all in all. He sets the standard for human hearts. Life is hidden in Christ. His example of self-emptying love directs every faithful heart.
When the journey ends, how do you want others to remember you? How do you want them to speak about your heart? Large- or hard-hearted, generous or cheap, compassionate or harsh, kind or cruel, just or unjust, merciful or mean?
Father John J. O’Brien is a Passionist priest, preacher, writer and teacher. He can be addressed at [email protected].