Our wounded hearts await Christ's healing to become light
Fr. Jordi Rivero
God created us to be one with Him in a love that is beyond our understanding. We should spend our life on earth growing in His love and then rejoice in it for eternity. It is for this that God sent His Son. By contemplating the heart of Jesus we see the Father and become ONE with Him.
And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me sees him who sent me" Jn 12:44-45
As we contemplate the Lord and yield in faith to His love, we are healed and transformed. This is the desire of the Father, this is eternal life.
For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. Jn 6:40
Mary is our model. Her heart was so perfectly united to her Son's that they loved and suffered as one. Her heart was not only pierced at the cross. Since Jesus, throughout His life, had interior sufferings caused by our sins, Mary's heart suffered all with Him. The unity of the hearts of Jesus and Mary is celebrated by the Church by placing the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Our hearts are wounded and remain so by self deceit
In biblical teaching, the heart is the very center of the human being, it determines who he is in his deepest self."The very source of his conscious, intelligent, and free personality, the place of his decisive choices, the place of the unwritten Law (R 2,15) and of the mysterious action of God. In the OT as in the NT the heart is the place where man meets God, an encounter which becomes fully effective in the human heart of the Son of God." (L.Dufour Dictionary of Biblical Theology). Therefore, the heart is the ground of our decisions for good or evil. This decisions ultimately are our response or lack of response to God.
We were conceived with original sin, a wound which inclines us to selfishness. As we grew up, even if we were blessed to grow in a Christian family, our hearts were exposed to the selfishness of our society. Another threat to our hearts were the offenses committed against us. Our hearts were not just hurt, they were wounded.
The wounds of our hearts caused by others and by our own sins block us from experiencing the love and the happiness of a healthy relationship with God and with others. We fear being hurt again and we fear risking our interests. Satan works behind the scene to keep us attached to our desire for control and self gratification.
In our hearts there is a throne. Whoever sits in it commands our desires and our will. We are ruled from that throne. If our ego is on the throne, we seek self satisfaction, what St. Paul calls"the desires of the flesh". Our hearts are therefore in bondage to sin.
We cannot heal our hearts. We need to surrender the throne to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There are many baptized who want to retain their good standing with God without surrendering their hearts to Him. They are like the rich young men in the Gospel (Cf. Mt 19:16-22) They want to be"good persons" accepted by God. They are willing to observe the Commandments hoping to avoid damnation but are not willing to dethrone their ego. God for them is much like a tax collector. They pay their dues and hope to be left alone. They don't love the Father nor long to be close to Him. They are lukewarm but do not realize it because so many "good" Christians around them are the same. The behavior of the multitudes can make us feel that we are doing well.
And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold -Matt. 24:12
To be freed we need to recognize our sin and humbly turn to the Lord. This is the grace of repentance by which the Holy Spirit illumines our lives and we can see the truth about ourselves and find hope in the mercy of God. We then experience an interior struggle. God makes manifest His love in Jesus, specially his love at the cross, but our ego does not want to surrender the throne. There is only one throne. If we allow selfishness and pride to rule our hearts, God is displaced.
Why would anyone reject a God who loves us infinitely and is the true fulfillment of all our desires? We are deceived and trapped by the devil. He lies to us just as he lied to Adam and Eve, poisoning their hearts so that they would distrust the intentions of God. So we shield our hearts from God by justifying ourselves. We are deceived to believe that we are OK.
Having lost sight of the goodness of God's plan for us, we are controlled by the devil mainly through fear of suffering. We are afraid of loosing what our hearts love: our control and our means for self satisfaction. To loose these is the cross and we run from it. But if we contemplate Jesus crucified, the Holy Spirit comes to us. The power of the love of Jesus manifested at the cross then casts out fear and gives us courage to suffer for that love. Then we can put to death the rebellion of the flesh with its self seeking. This is the power of the cross. The very instrument the devil used to instill fear in us becomes his defeat, just as it happened 2000 years ago when Jesus chose the cross in order to be faithful to the Father.
Will we dethrone the ego and allow God to reign? It depends on where we set our eyes. Do we reflect on the meaning of our lives and our death? God speaks to us in many ways, such as the witness of a fervent Christian, the beauty of nature, a book... We are tempted to bargain with God. We want to keep the ego in control while making some concessions to God. We want to do good but judge that total surrender to God is to"to much". If we judge this way we continue to be on our throne.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it? I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. -Jeremiah 17:9-10:
Jesus warns us: "For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." (Mark 7:21-23).
God gave our hearts"eyes" with which we can know God. We need to open them:
... I pray, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in knowledge of him; [with] the eyes of your heart enlightened so that you know what is the hope of his calling (Eph 2:17-18).
For it is the God who said,"Let light shine out of darkness" who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6)
Jesus saves us by healing us
This I learned from Fr. Farancis Martin: The Greek word sōtēria means "salvation, rescue, preservation" yet its most common use if for medical healing. From the same root we get Sōtēr which means "Savior" Jesus is both healer and Savior. He saves us by healing our disease. The double meaning of soteria as "healing" and "salvation" is often found in the Gospel. Thus in the words of Jesus to the woman with the flow of blood (Mt 9:2 par.) and to the blind man (Mk 10:52 par.), "your faith has saved/healed you" we understand that the sick persons were both healed and brought to a healing relation to Jesus.
Lack of union with Christ causes people to value the body more than the spirit, so there is a tendency to give priority to physical healing without seeking inner transformation into Christ. The Gospel accounts of the one leper who returns to Jesus to give thanks after being healed (Lk 17:19) and of the sinful woman who wept at his feet (Lk 7:50) point to the need to not only seek healing the body but also the gift of faith. The healings are the sign and promise of a future and complete sōtēria (healing/salvation).
Christ heals the total person, body and soul. We are invited through the sign of physical healing to believe and allow God to reign NOW in our hearts and thus govern our whole life.
Contemplate Christ Crucified.
In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul describes contemplation:"All of us, with unveiled face, gazing on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same Image, from glory to glory as by the Lord who is the Spirit"
The gaze is the means by which we allow God to come dwell in us as we yield completely to Him. Some gaze at the sun and are tanned. We gaze at the SON and are transformed to share divinity. What is the "Glory of the Lord" that we gaze at with our hearts? It is God Himself revealed in His power, majesty and holiness. It is at the cross that the glory of God is most perfectly revealed in the full splendor of His love and mercy. As we gaze upon the cross in deep gratitude and meditate upon God's love, the "glow" of God's glory is transferred to us. We are transformed into Christ present here, now, giving Himself to others through us, radiating His light.
You are the light of the world -Mt 5:14.
A face unveiled hides nothing from God. The heart is completely exposed to Him, willing to be pierced as needed to be freed from sin and restored. We do not cover our faces like Moses because the fullness of faith has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ and we want to let it shine. It is therefore important that our faces reflect the glory of the Lord we have gazed. Our face as well as our entire body becomes an instrument of God's presence, the temple of the Spirit which is within. There are many ways in which we communicate with our body (face, hands, posture, etc). If we have gazed upon the Lord then we should reflect Him. For example, our faces reflect love and purity; our hands bless, caress children are offered as a sign of friendship; Our bodies reflect modesty and simplicity in our demeanor and dress.
Faith needs to be communicated
Benedict XVI says that Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote to him: "Faith must never be presupposed but proposed." Then the pope affirms: "This is just how it is. Faith is not kept by itself in the world, it is not automatically passed on to the human heart, but must always be proclaimed. Moreover if the proclamation of faith is to be effective it must stem in turn from a heart that believes and loves, a heart that adores Christ and believes in the power of the Holy Spirit!"
We see in Acts 2 that immediately after the powerful outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, Peter proclaimed the Gospel boldly to the people. At the end of his discourse he proclaimed the faith: "God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). This is the proclamation that must be repeated by Christians of every generation. When they heard this proclamation "they were cut to the heart" (2:37).
We too need to be "cut to the heart" with profound repentance of our sins and also with understanding of the dignity of our life, suffering, relationships, future, as all is illuminated by Christ. Then we need to witness in the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray for this grace for all of us!