Thoughts of the Heart

May 27, 2009 § 3 Comments

In his general audience from August 6, 1980, the late Pope John Paul II speaks of when Christ addresses the hearts of His children (particularly in Matthew 5:28, “Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.) The Pope’s comments focus for the most part on the meaning of lust and the state of man after original sin — this audience would later be part of his monumental work, the Theology of the Body — but as with the rest of the TOTB, the subject matter is not limited to chastity, purity, and the body. It has effects that shake us down to our souls. Here is an excerpt from the August 6 audience I was reading last night, where the Pope discusses the significance of Christ addressing our hearts:

The man of our time feels called by name with this statement of Christ, no less than the man of that time, whom the Master was addressing directly. The universality of the Gospel, which is not at all a generalization, lies in this. Perhaps precisely in this statement of Christ, which we are analyzing here, this is manifested with particular clarity. By virtue of this statement, the man of all times and all places feels called, in an adequate, concrete and unrepeatable way. This is because Christ appeals to the human heart, which cannot be subject to any generalization. With the category of the heart, everyone is characterized individually, even more than by name. Everyone is reached in what determines him in a unique and unrepeatable way, and is defined in his humanity from within.

The depth of this short passage is staggering. Because Our Lord addresses our hearts, His words are suspended outside of race or continent, outside of time. But at the same instant, His words address every single individual within time, from the medieval king to the starving child, the President of the United States to the secretary in the office. Many can have the same name – admittedly, every time I hear of someone else with my name I feel a little sad – but just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two human hearts can be the same. From the beginning of time, God planned each and every heart into existence, brought different people together throughout history (great grandparents, parents, etc.), formed each heart with unique experiences, down to the present moment, to your heart here and now.  Each of us has one, but each of us is vastly different because of it. So Christ addresses the heart.

I wonder, in my quiet moments, whether those who are “pure of heart” and who have trained themselves to love more with the heart than solely with the body, love and feel more deeply since they love and feel with something so radically unique. But that is another post.

Read the rest of the August 6 audience here, or buy a copy of TOTB for your own very slow reading here.

§ 3 Responses to Thoughts of the Heart

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