26 July 2007

Fat Hearts Cannot See or Hear

SS. Joachim and Anne: Sirach 44.1, 10-15 and Matthew 13.16-17
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ. of Dallas

Do you see? Do you hear? Are you blessed in your seeing and hearing? If you see and hear what the prophets and the righteous have longed to see and longed to hear but do not, cannot, then you are blessed! But what is it that blessed eyes and blessed ears see and hear that the prophets and the righteous do not? They see Christ and hear the Word; they know Jesus and love his gospel. To both see and hear Christ Jesus is both to know and to love God and His creatures, both to be and to do the truth, both to desire and be given beauty. Though prophets and the righteous could see and hear, they will not see and hear b/c they are prophetic and righteous. The overshadowing of the soul, the possession of the spirit by the Holy Spirit so that Christ Jesus is revealed, this revelation of power and might is a gift. Never earned. Never merited. Never traded for. Given. Gifted. Graced to us by God the Father so that we might take His blessings and then grow as His prophets, as righteous people who see and hear.

Do you see? Do you hear? Are you blessed in your seeing and hearing?

Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to teach b/c of the unwillingness of those in the crowd to see and hear with hearts that understand. He reports that this difficulty fulfills a prophecy of Isaiah: “You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes…” Gross is the heart of this people? Gross? Fat. The Hebrew word here means “fat” and implies all the vices the ancient Jews would attach to being “fat”: dullness, sluggishness, laziness, being overindulged, and lethargic.

A spiritually “fat” heart cannot help the eyes see or the ears hear the perfection of the Lord’s teachings. Why? Such a heart is busy eating the junk calories of our info-tainment nation; scarfing down the greasy morsels of celebrity comedies and relishing the coming of their inevitable tragedies; busy shoveling in piles of factory-made, color-coded, Xeroxed and collated political opinion and its performance in the circuses of broadcast theatre; busy swallowing a Panic Culture bred and birthed so that safety can be sold as salvation and suppressed fear repackaged as security; busy wallowing in a brain-stupor, an intellectual mire induced by injections of freedom w/o truth, liberty w/o responsibility, and rights w/o limits. A fat heart so grossly obesed in the antithesis of Christ’s liberating Word cannot help the eye to see or the ear to hear.

Do you see? Do you hear? Are you blessed in your seeing and hearing?

If you look around you and see the face of God in your neighbors; if you look around and see Christ present to his church; if you listen and hear the Word spoken among your neighbors with clarity and strength; if you listen and hear the witness of the saints, those long gone and those among us still; if you see the beauty of the Blessed Trinity working in your life and the lives of those you know and love; if you hear the voice of God calling you to greater and greater charity—THEN you see with the eyes and hear with the ears of a blessed heart. The alternative is for you to sink uncelebrated into the sewage, the ruins of sin and despair. Your heart, your constant focus on Christ, was given to you at baptism and strengthen in the anointing of confirmation and is exercised in the celebration of the Eucharist. Don’t let it get fat snacking on the debris of our exhausted culture. Keep it strong in prayer, strong by works of mercy, and strong pumping the Word of God through your body! Be the disciple you were made to be: ripped, shined to a buff sheen, and busting at the seams to witness for our Lord.

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