I’ve been reflecting on the Beatitudes during my prayer the last several mornings, prompted by the fact that they were part of Sunday’s Gospel reading from Matthew, not to mention the fact that we could profitably spend endless hours reflecting on this central teaching of Jesus.
Reading the passage the other day, the line that I paused at is “Blessed are the clean of heart.” People give different meanings what Jesus was getting at by the phrase “clean of heart.” Where I immediately went in my prayer that morning was to an understanding of clean of heart as signifying a heart free from that which pulls us away from God, a heart turned wholeheartedly toward God.
As I had that thought, what came to my mind unbidden were the words from Psalm 51, “Create a clean heart in me, O God.” With those words, as I sometimes do in my prayer, I had an image of Jesus touching my heart. And with that touch came the realization that the presence of Jesus within me also meant the presence in me of Jesus’ Sacred Heart.
We often look at images of the Sacred Heart. Most Catholic churches I’ve been in have a statue or picture of the Sacred Heart in them and I’ve before mentioned the beautiful Sacred Heart statue that is at the top of the driveway going into St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset. But in my prayer what hit home was that Jesus’s Sacred Heart is not outside somewhere, not some distance away, as a statute of Jesus over there somewhere might suggest. Rather, it is in me. I walk with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in my being. Realizing that gave me a feeling of both comfort and strength.
What was also clear to me as I continued to reflect was that it is not that Jesus’ heart is there in place of mine. God doesn’t take out my heart and replace it with Jesus.’ Rather my heart is there – to be transformed by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to become more and more a reflection of the Heart of Jesus.
And so I continue to pray, “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”
Since Sunday evening, I keep coming back to the lyrics of one of the songs sung by our teen choir during Mass this week. The song is titled, The Heart of Worship and the refrain from the song goes:
I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and
it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry Lord, for the things I’ve made it,
when its’ all about You, all about You, Jesus.
The truth is that we often “make it” all about all sorts of other things. Any number of things become our center of focus, preoccupying us, keeping us from putting Jesus front and center. Our jobs, our friends, our anxieties, our ambitions, etc., etc. and so forth.
But, no matter how much we push Him aside, Jesus waits patiently for us to “come back to the heart of worship.” He stands in the corner in which we’ve pushed him waiting for us to recognize that we’ve mistakenly put other things in His place.
As I listened to the teens sing the words to the song Sunday evening, I was overwhelmed by the reality of Jesus’ patience and the lack of recrimination What I saw was Jesus happily embracing us, no matter how long it takes us to come back. No matter how long it takes, He’s happy to have us back.
This summer, I gave an 8-day guided retreat at St. Ignatius Retreat House on the theme, The Gift of an Awakened Heart. Over the course of the 8-days, we talked about what is an awakened heart and what it means to gift that heart to the world. We also talked about the things that hinder out ability to open our hearts both to God’s gifts to us and to the world.
This podcast is drawn from two of the talks I gave during the retreat. It starts by identifying some qualities of an awakened heart, a heart alive to the consonance of its beat with the heartbeat of God, a heart nourished and formed by the Heart of God. After identifying qualities of awakened heart, it talks about what it means to live out of that awakened heart.
This is the first in a series of five podcasts that will be drawn from the Awakened Heart retreat. It has been a while in coming; Elena and my travel schedule this summer meant for little opportunity for podcasting during the last few months. Hopefully, we’ll manage to get the rest of the series up without too much delay.
The length of this podcast is 22:03. You can stream it from the icon below or can download it here. (Remember that you can also subscribe to Creo en Dios! podcasts on iTunes.)
Growing in Love and Wisdom: Tibetan Buddhist Sources for Christian Meditation can be purchased from Amazon here. Or you can order it directly from the Oxford University Press here. For information on upcoming book talks and signings of Growing in Love and Wisdom, see my Facebook page here.
My Upcoming Offerings
Sacraments of Initiation - St. Thomas Apostle (Minneapolis) Adult Faith Formation (with Bill Nolan). April 10, 17 and 24, 6:45-8:00p.m.
Growing in Love and Wisdom - Augsburg College, April 18, 7:30p.m..[to be rescheduled due to snow
Intentional Discipleship and the New Evangelization - Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Minneapolis, April 28, 10:00a.m..
For information on upcoming book talks and signings ofGrowing in Love and Wisdom, see my Facebook page here. For more information about any of the events above, contact me by e-mail.