This Sunday we should ask ourselves how to care for the inner self so as to keep our hearts pure and good.
This Sunday’s Gospel is Mark 7:1–8a, 14–15, 21–2.
A letter from a child to the Lord Jesus was found in a house that was being renovated. The seven-year-old boy had made list of his wishes for Christmas: “I would like a Missal, a green chasuble, and the heart of Jesus. Greetings – Joseph Ratzinger.” The future Pope knew that what comes from the heart is most important. For us, the Heart of Jesus is an example.
Two key words
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
Jesus speaks strong words. He calls people who were considered the religious elite hypocrites (Greek: hýpocritēs). This word was also used in ancient times to refer to actors. They put on masks, went on stage, and played a role. During the performance, they are not themselves – there is no consistency between who they are and what they do. In the acting profession, this is normal. Jesus strongly warns against such attitudes in life.
“Heart” in the language of Scripture does not mean a place of emotion and feeling, as it does in our culture. In the Bible, “heart” (leb, lebab) refers to the whole inner man, including his conscience, feelings, passions, and especially his religious disposition. The Catechism says the heart is “our hidden center,” “the place of decision,” “the place of truth where we choose life or death” (CCC 2562).
A thought for today
So how do we care for our inner self so that it is pure and good? The model for us is the Heart of Jesus. “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” writes St. James. Let us look to the Heart of Jesus and fervently ask prayer: “Jesus, make my heart like your heart.”