8th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (2022): 1 Cor 15:54-58; Lk 6:39-45

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Homily Notes for the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (2022): 1 Cor 15:54-58; Lk 6:39-45

·  If asked what is the most important vital organ in the human body, many would rightly say the brain as the centre of thought, emotion, bodily functions, rational decision making and countless other intricate functions.

·  While the ancient Israelites also saw the brain as vital, for them the most important of the vital bodily organs was the heart. But the heart was seen as more than just what pumped blood through your body. It embodied the core of the entire person in their physical, psychological, emotion and spiritual dimensions. What was essential was that the heart was orientated towards God and desiring to have a lasting relationship with Him and the entire community that made up the People of God.

·  When the heart began to drift away from God and be drawn to give its love and attention to idols, that is, anything that become more important than God, the heart was said to be hardened and represented a dire state in which the person was being separated more and more from friendship with the living God.

·  Many ancient cultures even saw the heart as being what would be judged in the afterlife, where your heart was placed on a divine scale and if it was found too heavy than you endured the torments of death where if it was found light and radiant you would know the joys of the afterlife where one could rightly say with St Paul “Where, o death, is your victory? Where, o death is your sting?”

·  Jesus knew the traditions of his people and those of the ancient world and so he too spoke quite often about the condition of one’s heart as an indication of whether or not someone was seeking First the Kingdom of God or if someone was being consumed by idols and witnessing their life drift further and further from the life of grace.

·  Hence why the Lord proclaimed “Out of the treasure of heart, the good person produces good, and out of evil treasure, the evil person produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”

·  We know that Lent will begin this Ash Wednesday and it is hopeful that we have some idea in mind how we will spend these 40 Days of prayer, fasting and alms giving as a means to be ready for Easter Sunday.

·  A suggestion for Lent this year is to take as a scriptural quote as the overarching theme of your Lent is what Jesus says today about the treasury of our hearts, that is, our total relationship with Him, the Church and others. As the three traditional practices of Lent are prayer, fasting and alms giving, we can look at each of these practices from the perspective of the dispositions of the heart.

·  Prayer: When it comes to prayer it is important to consider what draws our heart to pray? Do we pray only in those times when we require something of God and feel disappointed if our prayer in not answered as we wanted? Do we pray by not only asking of God but also wanting to say to Him I love you or Lord I want to trust more in you or Lord I feel far from you, please bring me back to you!? It is essential to consider the movement of the heart when we pray and to ask how we would like our prayer to continue and where it can change so that it is less focused on us and more focused on the Lord. When the heart is given to God in prayer, He can shape it and make it aware of how our life of prayer can improve, change and even be wounded if He knows this is for our ultimate good.

·  Fasting: When it comes to fasting, the heart is good indicator to tell us what we need to fast from, notably, those idols that have begun to crowd our lives and harden them to the ways God wants to be more present. We are so blessed in this part of the world with an abundance of earthly delight and for as good as they are they can also become the true devotions of our hearts and no longer the God who gives us so much. It is true the traditional fast from meat during Lent was something that shaped the Catholic identity for many centuries and its observance on Fridays in Lent remains a venerable practice, but we might find that a more difficult and beneficial fast during Lent is to fast from social media, news outlets, Netflix, alcohol, etc not because they are inherently evil, though they can all be used for ill, but to simply make more room in the heart for God and ask him to fill, in ways expected and not, the space that these things were occupying. To fast is to teach the heart that we do not live by bread alone, that is, the good things of this life, but by every word that comes from the Mouth of God who never fails to speak deeply to the heart that has made ample space for Him.

·  Almsgiving: When it comes to almsgiving, not only do we get that satisfaction of knowing the money we donate to causes help to serve those causes dear to our hearts, but they also continually transform our hearts to be less attached to money and its passing delights in the things it can help us obtain, and become more attached to rejoicing that we are serving those in need and filling the heart with the greatest virtue of all, charity. Charity really can and should be the greatest happiness in our life, and a heart that radiates with charity is one that draws others to Christ. Do not be afraid friends to give alms, even at times more than we think we can offer, and witness how your heart delights in charity and feels less need to fill it with passing pleasure in the things of this world.

·  Ultimately, we want for the hearts in our chest to resemble the Sacred Heart that we will behold on Good Friday, the heart that was opened for us to provide the life-giving blood and water that start of origins of Baptism and Eucharist. May we allow the Lord to open our hearts this Lent, that through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, the treasury of heart will be open that shows our Love for God, care for the Church and desire to show good to all.