EXAMINING OUR HEARTS

Tuesday, 5th Week in Ordinary Time            

            The Pharisees who confronted Jesus about his disciples’ ritual purity were so concerned with strict observance of the law – some of which did not even come from God – that they lost sight of God’s desire for mercy, justice, and love. More than anything else, such inverted or distorted priorities caused Jesus to respond abruptly and forcefully as he directed his disciples to look at the state of their hearts before they considered their actions. (Leo Zanchettin)

            God calls us to examine our hearts not so that we would feel condemned, but so that we would know freedom and peace. Many saints have commented that the more deeply they saw their sins, the more fully they recognized God’s mercy and love. The humility they demonstrated was a recognition of their need for God, coupled with confidence in his power at work in them. In fact, they considered it a privilege to come to such self-knowledge, for it always led them closer to the Lord. (Leo Zanchettin) It was this privilege that these Pharisees denied themselves and prevented their followers from experiencing.

            For us to make this Holy Year a real encounter with the God of Mercy and a profound experience of God’s loving mercy, we need to ask for this grace of humility – to recognize how we have failed to respond to God’s love for us by failing to love our neighbor as Jesus loves us. To recognize how we have ignored God’s presence by not spending enough time in prayer. To recognize how we have short-changed God’s generosity by being stingy in sharing our blessings with others. To recognize how we have set aside God’s kingdom by embracing the distorted values of materialism. To recognize how we have built walls and barriers by clinging to our social status and entitlement. To recognize how we have rejected God’ mercy and forgiveness by refusing to forgive those who sin against us.

            Our deep, personal experience of God’s love makes us realize and recognize our faults and failures. It also leads us to experience God’s mercy and forgiveness. May this Jubilee of Mercy be for us a time of constant examination of the state of our hearts. May it lead us to a humble recognition of our sinfulness and of our need for God. May it lead us to a deeper realization and experience of God’s mercy and love.         

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