Sacred Heart of Christ

08-29-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Medieval legends inform us that most knights died from defending truth, beauty and freedom, but historians of later centuries inform us that the knights actually died from the result of their armor. The constricting metal "clothing" caused them to succumb to excessive heat exhaustion and dehydration; they usually died from a heart attack. Are you aware that the rules and customs of life which are supposed to support a good life often times can cause the death of one's heart. This is an issue which Jesus spoke and taught about, the death of life caused by rules that do not give life, but cause death.

Our Gospel passage according to Mark has our Lord Jesus being closely monitored and observed by the custom-bound Pharisees. He appears to be breaking one of the many, small, and demanding laws created to protect the holy Law of Moses. These Pharisees inform Jesus of his infraction. Jesus, however, answers them back with astounding brilliance and sharpness that often accompanies anger. He was not angry at the people, but about the customs, ideas and traditions that cause the death of the heart and soul of a people. This is a significant difference.

We realize that Jesus knew that the holy Law is a sign of God's own love. He, also, was well aware of the passages from the Book of Deuteronomy in which Moses calls on the chosen people to accept and observe the Law in its entirety, notably without addition or subtraction. The holy Law only needed wholehearted observance. We need to be aware that accepting and observing the Law is more than a matter of obedience. It is actually part of the plan of salvation. The true Law in its fullness and integrity creates life; it does not suffocate it. In this story the Pharisees' precepts squeeze the very life out of the Law and also out of the people.

The second reading takes up the meaning of religion pure and simple. The author James reflects the thoughts of Jesus concerning acting on the Word of God that is rooted deep within us. Religion in fact should be the way we love, work, eat, give, take, and do justice.

Social Manners and also cultural and familial customs and in addition ordinary behaviors say a lot. Simple manners make relationships among strangers easier to occur. In everyday life and interaction, we owe everyone respect. Manners help create a honorable, civil and decent people. Bear in mind that our words and ways must be honest expressions of respect and love.

The actual core of our religion cannot be found in this or that era, custom, tradition, or set of transitory rules. Searching for the heart of faith in any of these places ultimately is making a certain period of history, the past, special beyond its meaning or purpose. The heart is always greater and more important than a time bound rule. It is the "Sacred Heart of Christ" that matters.

Fr. Brian