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Conditions Of The Heart Matter Most To God

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Conditions Of The Heart Matter Most To God

Conditions of the heart matter most to God.”

One point that Jesus reiterated over and over to His disciples is that what’s in the heart tells the true story about a person. Kingdom reality exists in the heart of the person and it is there that a person decides whether they will serve God faithfully or follow their flesh desire into sin. Jesus warned His disciples that just because people appear doing their given responsibilities to love God, they can be completely false at the core. Therefore, guarding your own heart above all else is actually the main concern that matters as it determines the course of Christian life. After all what matters are new perceptions of the basic divine-human relationship, for which heart is a code word that is considered as the hidden source of all significant human actions.

Every heart overflows into either evil or good. From the good treasure in the heart, a good person, like a good tree, produces good fruit (Lk 6:45). As for the evil fruit of the evil heart, we find an extensive catalog: evil intentions, fornication, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly (Mk 7:22). Therefore, the conditions of the heart matter most to God. Consider, for example, the announcement that a man who looks at a woman with desire has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mt 5:28). To modern readers that sounds like hyperbole, but to Jesus it was the plain truth of the matter. That announcement not only underscores the corruptive power of desire; it also implies the scope of the heart, for desire is a term that binds two people, the object of desire and the one desiring. Both are present in the one heart.

The heart is also the source of all loyalties. Loyalty creates a bond between a particular lord (e.g., God or Mammon) and a particular servant (Mt 6:24). Again, it is the Lord that evokes this loyalty. The heart is big enough to include both. By referring to both ends of desiring, hoping, serving, and treasuring, the heart comprises all the actions that stem from those inner urgencies. It thus binds the future to the present, the heaven to the earth for the call to reflect on one’s own inner reality is humbling in itself.  

Today, however, we live in a civilization that does not take the heart seriously. The default is always to look at the surface—the image, the reputation, the cultural background, the life style, the face value—of things and people, judging their sincerity based on how they manifest on the outside. Anyone can deceive with the look, but the heart motive can never point to a lie. Let me take an example from everyday life, I am reminded of a young couple from my Parish whom I met during the Christmas season and who are going to marry in the near future. They both are Catholics but belong to entirely different cultural backgrounds- East Indian and Tribal North Indian, and even dissimilarity of their lifestyles.

However, now they live separately yet their heart motives are true to marry as they humbly and deeply love each other. It’s not about having similar thoughts but similar heart motives. Even psychological categories are inadequate, because thought focuses not on the intensity of passion but on the structure of relations. The direction of thought is not outward but inward, where the control center of all relationships is located. Since, the heart is not as limited by space and time as is the face. The heart can be in two places at once, and many people can inhabit this one space. This young Catholics couple told me that they really value the conditions of their hearts even though they have made many mistakes due to gradual misunderstanding in past yet it is the secret intent of the heart that must be forgiven.

 It also reminds me of the catholicity statement that if we belong to Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer tribal or racial; for all of us are one in Christ Jesus. This couple holds each other in their hearts that means to appeal to more than mutual affections; referring to their presence in the same, very real, space. The one heart has become a world within which individuals are so interdependent that they die together and live together (2 Cor 7:3). To have an evil heart is to be double-minded; to purify the heart is to become single-minded (Jas 4:8). 

As a result, God asks us to take the heart matters seriouslyin order to guard our own hearts and to be attentive of the heart motives of others. Matters of the heart are serious matters to God and it should be serious to us as well. In the Old Testament, as a result, God instructed Samuel and consequently all of us today, too—to judge according to the heart and not the outward appearance in choosing the anointed leader of a country (1 Samuel 16:7). That is why even David, after falling into sin, asked God to create in him first a clean heart because our heartscondition depends on the things we allow into our hearts. These things literally form our thoughts and attitudes, and finally, shape the deepest part of our being. No matter what your circumstances (the outside) are, if your heart (the inside) is right, you’re going to be okay. 

The prophet often concludes his appeal with the call: “Whoever has an ear should listen.” Such listening can be done only with the heart. Deafness in responding to God’s word is the action of a disobedient heart, whereas acute hearing spells obedience. Therefore, know the condition of one’s own heart and let our Lord’s teachings be written on  one’s own heart, so that a person’s knowledge of God becomes superior to any knowledge received from relatives or teachers (Rom 2:15; Heb 8:8-12). However, when Christians are placed on trial for their faith and threatened with death, it is by their fearlessness before their persecutors that they revere Christ as lord in their hearts (1 Pt 3:13-17). Like the choice made in Gethsemane, this gives an apocalyptic finality to the heart’s yes and no.  

May the Holy Heart of Jesus, make our hearts humble, patient, pure, and wholly obedient to His will that we may live in Him and for Him. 

 + In Christ, 

Father Henry Peter MSFS,

Sacred Heart Church,

Bhusawal, Maharashtra, India.


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