"Inspectio Cordis": Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Feb. 11

We sometimes forget that Jesus’ healing is not merely an act of divine power but a “trading places,” whereby He assumes our pains and ills. This gives us a new glimpse of what it means to love others as Jesus has loved us, which is the new offering He asks of us in gratitude for our cleansing.

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 While his original text is worth reading, his examples and style can feel outdated to the modern reader.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


Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
February 11, 2024

The quotations are from Inspectio Cordis, p. 148-152 in Selected Writings of St. Stanislaus Papczyński.

Before Holy Communion

1. “If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch…”
If you search for images of leprosy, the sight of the scrab, pustule, or blotch can be disconcerting and ugly. Some lepers have lost limbs or parts of their faces. While we do not – in developed countries – endure this plague anymore, this disease is a helpful metaphor for sin and its effects. Lepers cannot hide their sickness, but we – like the “hypocrites” – try to conceal our wounds and problems. We tend to place makeup upon ourselves, whether cosmetic or as a flair of personality, to pretend we are better than we are. But the penitential rite in Mass – Lord, have mercy – is the place we all, as one, admit our scabs, pustules, and blotches. To receive His pardon, we need to admit our dire need for His mercy. The lepers had no choice about their need; we must elect to humble ourselves and admit the truth.

What scabs, pustules, or blotches – on your heart, in your life – do you bring to Mass this Sunday? How do you tend to hide them, and how can you reveal them before Jesus?

2. “He shall dwell apart.”
The laws regarding leprosy intended to protect the community, while exiling the leper, without providing direct help for his ailment. We, too, can live in an “Old Testament” mentality. We ostracize the unsightly parts of our lives; we condemn our weaknesses and disassociate from our “sinful selves.” Then, we do the same to others: we push away those who bear the “contagion” of sin and make them “dwell apart,” out of a desire to protect ourselves. But we are challenged: we live in the time of the New Testament, where Jesus re-integrates the lepers, drawing close to them and healing them. In Confession, Jesus continues His ministry to make us whole and clean, able to worship His Father in “spirit and truth.” And Jesus asks us to do the same: to draw near to others, cleansing them with the love shown in our words and deeds.

What part of me do I tend to ostracize or condemn? What parts of myself do I need to bring to Confession for healing? Whom do I treat as lepers, and how can I love them?

3. “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.”
When words like sin and confession are used, we tend to become dour and serious. We imagine that we must amend our ways and live a “joyless” life to please God. Yet, the Psalmist explains a different story. Sin is the burden of our lives, which removes joy. In confessing our sin, in experiencing the Father’s pardon, we are filled “with the joy of salvation.” Far from being a duty, sacramental confession becomes a need of the heart, to immerse oneself in a love far greater than the misery and darkness of iniquity. But this joy is not experienced in the abstract, in “knowing” these things about God. This gladness is tangible, received in time of trouble, because the Father responds to us in our needs. Then, joy becomes contagious, encouraging others: “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just; exult, all you upright of heart.”

Where need to experience the joy of salvation? In what troubles do you need to turn to the Lord? How can you be contagious with joy this week?

After Holy Communion

1. “You can make me clean.”
Clean and unclean sound foreign to our ears today, as we are accustomed to sin and holiness. What was unclean was not sinful but could not enter God’s presence. The leper asks for cleansing, not healing. His primary desire is to participate in the worship of the living God in the Temple. The paradox is that, in kneeling before Jesus, the leper is already worshipping the living God, for Jesus is the new Temple. How often, though, our desires are not as noble as the lepers: we desire Jesus to fix problems, so that we can go our “merry way” in life. This can be a good tool for discernment in what and how we ask Jesus for help: whether they lead us back to Him, back to worship, back to the Church, or whether we ask only to do what we want to do.

What are your deeper desires in relation to Jesus through receiving Holy Communion? When you ask Him for help, what ultimately do you seek from Him?

2. “Offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed.” 
The offering prescribed is found in Lev 14:3-7. One clean bird had to be sacrificed, and another, dipped in the blood of the other, was to fly away free. The ritual poignantly illustrates the truth of Jesus’ life and mission: He died, and by sprinkling His Blood upon us for the forgiveness of our sins, frees us to fly away. The leper and Jesus “trade places” in the Gospel: the leper, formerly in deserted places, now returns to the city and human society, while Jesus can only remain “outside in deserted places.” We sometimes forget that Jesus’ healing is not merely an act of divine power but a “trading places,” whereby He assumes our pains and ills. This gives us a new glimpse of what it means to love others as Jesus has loved us, which is the new offering He asks of us in gratitude for our cleansing.

How can you remember better the “cost” of your cleansing and wholeness? How can you love others as Jesus has loved you, in assuming your weakness and sin? 

3. “Not seeking my own benefit…”
Whereas the leper had to find Jesus to be cleansed, Jesus comes to us, at a dependable hour each week, to heal and cleanse us. He takes the initiative to pour out His loving mercy. We, too, are to seek others, rather than our benefit. That is the fruit of being fully cleansed by Jesus of our selfish ego and pride, which places our interests at the center of our lives. St. Paul was so cleansed, such that he sought to give glory to God in all things, even the smallest – eating and drinking – to save as many as possible. He avoided even giving offense. We are to be imitators of him, as of Christ, to spread the Gospel as much as possible for the salvation of all.

How do you seek your own advantage in daily life? How can you take the initiative to love others and seek their benefit and their salvation, even in “eating and drinking”?

Next week: First Sunday of Lent
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BELH

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