What’s in Your Heart?
(8th Ordinary Sunday: Sirach 27:4-7; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Luke 6:39-45)
There is an ad for a credit card that ends with the question, “What’s in your wallet?” Sirach, in today’s first reading, and Jesus in the Gospel, both ask, in effect, “What’s in your heart?” and they look for the answer in how we speak.
Sirach compares speech to the sifting of grain, revealing how much, or how little, substance there is in our mind and heart. At La Salette, Mary uses an even stronger image. “If you have wheat, you must not sow it. Anything you sow the vermin will eat, and whatever does grow will fall into dust when you thresh it.”
This is, first, a warning of the famine that lies ahead; but it is also an apt symbol of the state of her people’s faith, which has fallen into dust, blighted by indifference. This is a great tragedy.
The Gospel, too, reminds us of our faults. Jesus says, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” It can be easy to criticize others, as if our personal behavior and opinions were normative for everyone else. This attitude, and perhaps many others, are not easy to overcome.
But all is not lost. Otherwise, the Beautiful Lady would never have come.
St. Paul, at the end of the long chapter on the resurrection, cries out: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? ... Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Yes, we need to labor, to strive to live our faith with integrity. The victory is not ours to win, however. It is beyond our strength—but not beyond our reach. At La Salette Mary reminds us of the means placed at our disposal in the Church and in our personal lives, making it possible for us to share Christ’s triumph over sin and death.
Hope of victory is more than wishing for it. It is based on promises like that of today’s psalm: “They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God.” Is that in your heart?
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.