"Inspectio Cordis": Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 7

We may presume to know Jesus, because we know the Church’s doctrine regarding Him. But we also need living faith, that allows His power to enter and transform our lives.

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 While his original text is worth reading, his examples and style can feel outdated to the modern reader.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.


Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B
July 7, 2024

Before Holy Communion 

1. “The spirit entered into me and set me on my feet.”    
The Holy Spirit sets Ezekiel upon his feet “so that he is better able to hear the Word of God.” The Spirit “transforms the prophet and helps him to hear or see things that he could not if left on his own” (see Navarre Commentary on Ezekiel). Similarly, at Mass we stand to hear the Gospel, not only out of respect for Jesus but to be better able to hear His prophetic words.

As sinners, however, we sometimes resist and rebel allowing His Word – sharper than a two-edged sword – to circumcise our hearts. Even if we are physically present and standing, we may be negligent in paying attention to each word that the Lord speaks, both through the readings as well as directly to our hearts in Holy Communion. We all need strength from the Holy Spirit to stand firm and courageously listen to Jesus and be docile to His teaching.

When do you struggle to be attentive in listening to the readings at Mass? How do you react when the Word of God challenges your way of life or sinful behavior? Where do you need the Spirit to strengthen you to listen like Ezekiel?

2. “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.”
The Psalmist expresses an attitude of hopeful trust that flows from a humble awareness of being entirely dependent upon the Lord and His mercy. So, too, during the penitential rite at Mass, we enter this attitude, pleading for the Lord’s mercy to heal our wounded, sinful hearts.

We need not fear to raise our eyes to Him, as if He were ready to punish us. Rather, He desires that we fix our eyes upon Him, just as we would gaze in a prolonged manner on the Divine Mercy image. The Word he speaks is not one of condemnation but of forgiveness that cuts away our sins from our hardened hearts.

What attitude do you have to Jesus when you experience your sinfulness? How can you allow your heart space at Mass to hope in His mercy? Where can you fix your eyes upon Him, to plead for His mercy?

3. “Thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan…”
Like St. Paul, we experience our weaknesses that “beat us” and prevent us from becoming too elated and falling into pride. We may fight against this thorn and battle the angel, attempting to eliminate that struggle from our lives. However, this is part of Jesus’ plan for St. Paul and for us, to teach us that His mercy reaches and touches us there, in our weakness.

Rather than attempting to make ourselves better to be worthy of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, we can “boast most gladly” of our weaknesses, confessing not only our sins, but above all, His powerful mercy that is perfected in our difficulties. But we experience that power only if we fix our eyes upon Jesus who comes to us in Holy Communion to strengthen us with His love.

What thorns do you experience? What “angels of Satan” bother or tempt you? Where do you need to experience His powerful mercy to make you strong in your weakness?  

After Holy Communion

1. “Where did this man get all this?”
The inhabitants of Nazareth ask the correct questions, but they do so with an incorrect attitude. They try to bring Jesus “down to size,” presuming that they know Him since His youth.

Modern Catholics, too, question Jesus by asking similar questions of the leaders in the Church, astonished that they – “of all people” – are the ones teaching or governing. They, too, point to people’s past or mistakes to invalidate their present position, refusing to listen like the rebellious Israelites. We need faith – which the inhabitants of Nazareth lacked – to witness that God works through humble, ordinary people, who are willing to hear and proclaim His Word.

Where do you have a critical attitude toward Church leaders? Where do you need faith to see God at work in “ordinary” – even sinful – people?

2. “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there.”
In the past Sundays, we have witnessed the increasing revelation of Jesus’ power: He cures a leper, calms a storm, heals a woman suffering for twelve years, and raises a twelve-year-old girl from the dead. But Jesus’ power is crippled by the lack of faith from those who ought to know Him the most (see Commentary on the Gospel of St. Mark by Mary Healy).

We may presume to know Jesus, because we know the Church’s doctrine regarding Him. But we also need living faith, that allows His power to enter and transform our lives. We need to be careful to not “domesticate” Jesus and bring Him down to “our size,” but rather open our hearts to the mystery of His Sacred Heart that is aflame with love that is omnipotent. Then, we will witness His mighty deeds that He works, for faith opens our lives to the power of His love.

What mighty deeds do you hope Jesus would perform in your life? Where do you lack living faith in His Person and need the Holy Spirit to strengthen your faith?

3. “Son of man, I am sending you…"
Pope Francis warns about the Church becoming “self-referential,” which means that we tend to keep to those groups of people with whom we agree. The Lord sends His prophets – Ezekiel and Jesus Himself – to “rebels,” to those who do not already agree. The word Mass comes from the Latin word for “to send.”

At the end of Mass, we are sent forth, to speak God’s word, whether others “heed or resist.” That does not mean we need to argue with others or nag them; it does mean, however, that we are sent forth. Through Baptism, we are prophets in Christ, sharing His mission of speaking the Word. The more we heed His Word, the more we can share that Word joyfully to a world that perishes for lack of hearing His Word of life.

Where do you tend to be “self-referential” and stay only with those whom you know? To whom does the Lord send you this week, to speak His Word of life? 

Next week: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 14.
Previous Sunday
{shopmercy-ad} 

GLMY

You might also like...

A weekly web series by Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces us to the meditations for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time by the Marian Founder. 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 at Sunday Mass, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.

Dr. Robert Stackpole’s popular introduction to philosophy, Letters to a College Student: On the Light of Reason and the Search for Truth, has been re-issued in revised and expanded edition, with all proceeds benefitting the Marian Fathers.

More than just a retreat or conference, the National Eucharistic Congress, July 17-21 in Indianapolis, Indiana, will be a pivotal moment in both American history and the legacy of the Catholic Church. And the Marian Fathers will be there!