September 02, 2012
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Rev. Fr. Jun Sescon (Chaplain, Sto. Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel)
Evening Mass at Sto. Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel
Second Reading James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27
Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
1 Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?" 6 And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, `This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' 8 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." 14 And he called the people to him again, and said to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him." 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”
Words, they say, reveal also our subconscious. Words reflect our reality - our perception. And that is why there are words we often use, and they somehow give us a deeper sense of reality. And tonight, we reflect on the word HEART. Because we notice, even in Filipino, the word HEART has many uses - it points to us the primacy of the heart in our language, in our consciousness. We judge a person's character by the heart. That is why one of the most derogatory descriptions that can be given to a person is when somebody says, "you have no heart". Pag sinabing wala kang puso, parang napakasama mo nang tao. Parang wala ka nang sinasanto, wala kang minamahal, wala kang pinapatawad. A cold heart, a hardened heart. In the seminary, pag ang tao ay cold-hearted na, ang tawag namin doon ay frozen delight ka na, malamig na, matigas na ang puso mo. And I don't think you would love to be described that way.
On the other hand, when we describe a person as someone with a heart - may puso ang taong 'yan - nakikinig 'yan, may pakiramdam 'yan, di 'yan manhid, sensitive 'yan, matulungin ang taong 'yan, because the person has a heart. We also judge the degree of a person's commitment to something, by the heart. Either one's heart is into it, or one is half-hearted - hindi niya gusto ang ginagawa niya. Isn't it that our hearts are sometimes like that - that our hearts are not into what we are doing. Sa mga nagsisimba ngayon, perhaps there are people whose heart is not into this mass, not into this celebration right now. And if a person's heart is not into it, time will come when that person will just give up. On the other hand, there is a person who is so passionate, he likes what he is doing, his heart is into it - he is whole-hearted. Kahit anong pagsubok, mahirap sumuko 'yang taong 'yan. Because he is wholehearted - he likes what he is doing.
It is not only commitment, but even the depth of emotions is described by the heart. That is why we say that a person has a "heavy heart". Napakabigat nang nararamdaman ng taong 'yon. And you know brothers and sisters, it can be one of the most miserable things that can happen to a person - when you are doing things with a heavy heart. You are dragging yourself into what you are doing. On the other hand, a person can do things with a light heart - these are depths of emotions. Kayo kaya ngayon? Ano ang nararamdaman ninyo ngayon? Do you journey with a heavy heart? Or are venturing in life with a happy and light heart?
Why am I saying all these things? It is because in our readings today, the Lord wants to remind us that the heart is very important. The promise of the heart is not just a language - but even in religion, even in our faith. Jesus says to the Pharisees - you've got it all wrong. It is not just about promises - you must put your heart into it. That is the problem with the Pharisees - seemingly, they were obeying, they were following the laws, but their heart is not into it. That is why Jesus is saying the Gospel, "You are just giving me lip service, but your hearts are far from me." Ang pinakamasaklap ay kapag wala ang puso mo sa ginagawa mo. Kasi para mo lang kinakaladkad ang sarili mo. Wala ka sa totoong kalooban mo.
Today, brothers and sisters, this is the grace that we should pray. That we can put our heart into what we are doing - in our relationship, in our family, in our work. For our country, for our church. May we not just follow the dictates of the law, but may we put our heart into it. Let us not misconstrue our Lord. Jesus is not competing the law with the heart - they are not supposed to be enemies. In fact, they should be collaborators.
How do you know if one is obeying? Paano nyo malalaman kung isang tao ay tumutupad sa kalooban ng Diyos? How do you know if a person's heart is into what he or she is doing? How did Jesus know that what the Pharisees was doing is not really from the heart? What did the Pharisees do? They lambasted the disciples of the Lord - their hearts were not really shaped by their obedience. What happened to the Pharisees? They became judgmental, self-righteous, disrespectful, uncharitable to others. They were not shaped according to the will of God. If you want to know if you are obeying from the heart, if you want to know if you are doing good from the heart, if your heart is into prayer and service, you must give birth to a loving, just and peaceful heart. Malalaman mo lamang kung ang kalooban ng Diyos ang sinusunod mo, kung bandang huli, nababago ang puso mo. Nagiging mapagmahal ka, mapagpatawad ka, mapayapa ka, makatarungan ka. But if your heart is not changed, you are simply obeying the peripheries of the law. You are not following from the heart.
Brothers and sisters, that is the second grace to pray. That we may truly follow the Lord with all our hearts. Because when that happens, our hearts are shaped, our hearts are converted and transformed. Let us pray for that grace - that our obedience, our faith, may change our hearts and inspire others. Because that is the fruit of our obedience - a loving and kind heart.
Lord, we open our hearts to you. Lord, you know what is in our hearts. Some of us are here, but Lord, our heart is not here. Pardon us, O Lord. Lord, right now, in my family, in my job, I am half-hearted. Strengthen me, O Lord. Lord, in obeying You, my heart is not into it. Lord, awaken that sense of charity, of commitment, in me. Lord, You know what is in our hearts. Some of our hearts have become so cold and hardened. Lord, touch our hearts. Ignite Your love again in our hearts. Because you, O Lord, You are the fount of true obedience, of true love. You are the power behind any conversion and transformation. Lord, in this Mass, touch our hearts - You are meek and humble of heart, Amen.