June 4, 2016
LIVING FROM THE HEART–reflection on Luke 2:41-51
Today is the second of the great “heart” feast days: yesterday was the Sacred Heart, today, the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There are many different ways to look at what “heart” means in the context of the scriptures. It is most often seen as the place where love resides, the seat of our emotions and warmth, as in “I love you with all my heart.” In today’s Gospel we get a little different picture. Jesus wanders off from the caravan travelling home and sits in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. His responses astounded them because of his understanding. You might say, he spoke to them from his heart. In reality, Jesus was just doing what he always did: he lived from the heart. Now, what does that mean? Certainly not that he was always on an emotional high, where everything went splendidly, made perfect sense and carried no risk. That simply is not the human experience, as we all know, and Jesus shared our humanity to the full. To live from the heart can be summed up in Jesus’ response to Mary and Joseph when they asked him where he had been. All that Jesus did, said and thought came from the wellspring of existence deep within, a place that we all share. That deep, sacred place which we might call “the Father’s house.” This is the place where we come forth from the creative love of God at every moment. It is not within our control. It simply IS. That deepest point where God IS within us. Because it is totally God, it is the Father’s house, localized in each person, in all creation. This deep, deep place within is where prayer resides. Prayer is not so much words, is it, as it is coming to rest in this quiet spring of our existence and God’s loving presence. As we sing in one of our hymns, it is quiet as the midnight. From this place, all of Jesus’ actions took their form. To be fully human, fully divine is to live from the Father’s house, or as we celebrate today, the heart.
In today’s feast of the Immaculate Heart, what we are celebrating is not so much the fact that Mary had no sin, but that her focus was to live in God from the heart, uncluttered, and like us, wrestling with the questions which life threw her way. And she certainly had some big ones! In effect, Jesus didn’t answer her question about where he had been. He gave her another question, one to take to the center of her being, the Father’s house, and keep it there, to be pondered. Jesus was guiding her in living the contemplative life. It’s not that the contemplative life will give you all the answers. The contemplative life will show the path inward, nudge us to walk it along with Jesus, and lead us back to our hearts, the Father’s house, where all prayer lives in the person of God. That is why we do what we do in the simplicity of daily life. Contemplative life is about living from the inside out – or as our daily experience shows, to try to. It is about yielding to the transformation into love that God’s heart is burning with desire to bring about in us. It is a journey into God, the journey into our heart. And then the journey outward to share the love of God in service, in care, in support, in honest love.