"Inspectio Cordis": Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feb. 4

The omnipotent God does not heal our broken hearts by a snap of His fingers, but by becoming man and assuming flesh, to bear our diseases and infirmities to the Cross. Place all your burdens upon the altar and allow Jesus to transform sin and its effects into salvation.

By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC

A gaze of the heart. Examining the depth of one’s heart.

There is no one way to translate the Latin title Inspectio Cordis, given to the collection of meditations for Sundays by the Founder of the Marians, St. Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701).

These meditations, published weekly on Fridays in preparation for the Sunday Mass, follow the style and purpose of our holy Father Founder. While his original text is worth reading, his examples and style can feel outdated to the modern reader. As his spiritual son, I will attempt my best to imitate his style and imitate his ministry of preaching to hearts.

The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.


Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
February 4, 2024

Before Holy Communion

1. “They come to an end without hope.”
Job’s words in the first reading may seem dour and grim. However, Job’s lament expresses an honesty that disarms our defensive hearts. We like to pretend that, despite our problems, “life is good,” and we should “count our blessings.” Yet, in this world so ravaged by sin and its effects, we need this candor of admitting how much we suffer. But what “clinches” our pain is that each misfortune listed by Job eclipses the sun of hope in our hearts. “I shall not see happiness again.”

Today, as we admit our faults and beg for God’s tender mercy, it would do us well to have the humility of Job and admit our struggle to persevere in hope. Only when we admit that our human strength has reached its limit do we receive hope as a gift.

What burdens do you want to recount to our good heavenly Father? Where do you need Jesus to restore your heart with hope? 

2. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Our Father “tells the number of the stars” and “calls each by name.” He deploys infinite power and wisdom. Yet, He turns His gaze and attention to the lowly, the brokenhearted, and the wounded. None of our hopeless suffering goes unnoticed. For this reason, it is so important that we have the candor of Job: we only experience His healing of our broken hearts and binding of our wounds if we expose them to His omnipotent mercy.

The paradox of admitting our sense of defeat and despair is that, presented to the Father, we will find plenty of reasons to praise Him. Honest struggle leads to glorious exaltation. Saint Augustine encourages us: “Does divine praise come to an end when the song is sung? No. Your tongue gives praise for a while; your life should give praise to God all the time” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 146, 1).

What wounds do you need bound? How do you experience God’s gaze of mercy placed upon your broken heart? How do you praise God with your tongue and your life?

3. “Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
At the Offertory, we are accustomed to bringing monetary donations for the temporal support of the Church’s needs. But that rite of the Mass is also for us to bring our infirmities, our diseases, our struggles to the altar, surrendering them to Christ. We often think of “trusting” in Jesus and “letting go” of our worries. We can do so concretely in this part of the Mass, where we are called not only to sing and donate money but allow Christ to be our Savior.

The omnipotent God does not heal our broken hearts by a snap of His fingers, but by becoming man and assuming flesh, to bear our diseases and infirmities to the Cross. Place all your burdens upon the altar and allow Jesus to transform sin and its effects into salvation.

Do you hold back certain infirmities or problems, trying to solve them yourself? How can you more actively participate in the Offertory, surrendering your joys and sorrows to Christ?

After Holy Communion

1. “He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.”
Jesus takes the initiative to draw near to Simon’s mother-in-law. In Holy Communion, He descends to earth anew, to approach you. He grasps your hand in the Host, and He helps you up. The Greek word here is the same in Mk 16:6, describing Jesus’ resurrection. He “raised her up.”

When we place our burdens upon the altar, the Holy Spirit transforms them, and Jesus “raises us up” from our infirmities and binds our wounds. We exchange our suffering for the redemption that comes in Christ Jesus in Communion. By receiving Him, Jesus wants to give you a share – already now, this very week – in His resurrection. He grasps your hand to lead you.

How do you experience the help of Jesus to raise you up from your burdens? How do you believe Jesus approaches you in particular in Communion and grasps you by the hand?

2. "She waited on them.”
Simon’s mother-in-law immediately serves Jesus and the disciples. The Greek word here is diakoneo, whence we have the English “deacon” – to serve. A sign of being healed by Jesus is not only restoration of physical but also spiritual health. Perhaps her “waiting” on them included menial tasks, such as preparing a meal or cleaning the house, which might have been neglected during her fever.

We, too, might find ourselves so “sick” because of hopelessness that we find it hard to persevere in the daily, menial tasks of life. But Jesus comes to you in Holy Communion, and He remains in your heart, to enable you to persevere in even the boring chores. That is where we find Jesus, as St. Teresa of Avila stated: amid the pots and pans! 

What chores or tasks do you find boring or even impossible with the burdens you carry? How can Jesus in Holy Communion give you strength to renew your effort to love through the menial tasks of daily life?

3. “Woe to me if I do not preach it!”
Saint Paul experienced a burning need to proclaim the Gospel. Similarly, Jesus, despite His popularity as a healer and exorcist, went apart to pray and refocus on the mission given to Him by Abba: to preach the Kingdom. We are called to participate in Jesus’ mission, allowing Paul’s heartfelt words to echo in our minds. Woe to us if we experience such an amazing goodness from Jesus and yet fail to preach – to share – His mercies with others. But this is no burden; it is a joy that is its own reward.

Paul boasts that his recompense is the very proclamation of the Gospel. Indeed, we will experience this “joy of the Gospel” if we, too, share it freely, just as we have been given freely such benefits and mercies from the Lord. We will witness the marvels and miracles Jesus works through us as we share in His mission.

How do you let fear or concern for the opinion of others impede you from sharing your faith in Jesus? How can you proclaim the joy of the Gospel in your daily life and work? 

Next: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
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BELH

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