"Inspectio Cordis": Third Sunday of Lent, March 3

Jesus, in Holy Communion, is sweeter than syrup. When we recognize Jesus as the “Lord God” who frees us from slavery, from our Egypt, from death and sin, we experience His love that is sweeter than honey.

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 While his original text is worth reading, his examples and style can feel outdated to the modern reader.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


Third Sunday of Lent – Cycle B
March 3, 2024

Before Holy Communion

1. “For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God…”
Jealousy typically has a negative connotation, for we associate it with the vice of envy. However, the English jealous has the same root as zealous, with an entirely positive meaning. That God is jealous means that He is zealous to keep us as His own People.

This description of God follows the first commandment: God desires an exclusive, intimate relationship with His People. He does not permit competitors for the loyalty and fidelity of the hearts of His children. He is like a husband who is jealous for his wife, as he desires and loves her as his own, not wanting any other man to have access to the intimacy of her heart.  So, too, the God who awaits you at Mass is jealous for your heart, for your love, for your fidelity. He wants not only external obedience to His commands, like a tyrant; He wants your heart, like a true Lover.

How do you experience the jealous, burning love of God for you and your heart? How do you run from or ignore His love, focusing on distractions and “other gods”? 

2. “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Jesus is the Son of this jealous God. He expels the money changers and the vendors from the temple precincts, not because He lost His temper, but because He zealously loves the Father. But the Father’s house now is the Church and each individual Christian. There, the Holy Spirit dwells as in a Temple.

We often think of repentance for our sins because of us deciding to reject bad habits. However, Jesus takes the initiative: He is zealous for your heart, which is His house, the temple of His Spirit. He drives out all that does not belong there: the distractions, the worries, the disordered love for passing things. Repentance follows the experience of allowing Jesus’ zeal into our hearts and lives, expelling all that is not of Him. Are you courageous enough to let this Jesus into your heart this Mass?

What do you think Jesus might expel from His ‘house’? How do you experience His zeal for your heart to turn from sin and turn back to the Father?

3. “He made a whip out of cords.”
How much this contrasts with our image of Jesus as the Divine Mercy! We could almost ask: is this the same Jesus? One scares us, another blesses us. Yet, we know that the Gospels describe for us the fullness of who Jesus is. Sometimes, we may imagine that Jesus’ mercy is saccharine, always and ever sweet. It is true that His mercy endures forever and is tender, gentle, and kind. However, when we fail to voluntarily surrender our sins, Jesus uses His authority as the Son to remove sins firmly and strongly from our life.

What we see here displayed is the fierceness of His love, the tenacity that will not stop halfway. Mercy does not mean that Jesus is “soft” on sin, but rather, that He is powerful enough to eliminate sin and heal its effects. In Holy Communion, which you are about to receive, You will receive the intensity of His love, that both purifies from sin and embraces you in your weakness.

How might you be afraid of Jesus’ fierce, tenacious, intense love? How might you ‘domesticate’ Jesus, not allowing Him to show the strength of His mercy to save you?

After Holy Communion

1. “Sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb…”
Holy Communion is Jesus Himself, who it the Law in the flesh. By receiving, loving, following, and obeying Him, we fulfill the Law and all its commands. So often, we can focus upon the various injunctions of what we are to do and what we must avoid. When we think of so many individual laws, we sometimes feel burdened and incapable of fulfilling them all. But this trap of Satan depends upon shifting our focus from Jesus to the various rules.

Jesus, in Holy Communion, is sweeter than syrup. When we recognize Jesus as the “Lord God” who frees us from slavery, from our Egypt, from death and sin, we experience His love that is sweeter than honey. But this takes time to savor His sweetness: we must remain with Him in Holy Communion. Without Him, the law is a burden; with Him, the commands are delightful.

How long do you remain with Jesus in Holy Communion to savor the sweetness of His love? Where do you find His law burdensome, and how can you draw strength from Him?

2. “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom...” 
In the confusion of life, we too look for signs that God is with us, and we beg for wisdom – explanation – for our suffering and pain. We sometimes find ourselves even more confused when we lack an answer from the Lord, when we come to Mass seeking signs and wisdom. For all we do receive is Jesus crucified, who is a stumbling block if we look for signs and foolishness if we look for answers.

But the only “answer” the Father offers us amid the turmoil of life is His own Son, crucified and risen. But this is not a verbal answer: the Father responds to all our prayers, all our hopes, all our needs, each Sunday, by giving us Holy Communion. Jesus in the Host is the answer. Only then can we begin to understand His wisdom and power.

What signs and answers do you need from the Father? How is Jesus in Holy Communion an answer for you, for your needs, for your pain and confusion?

3. “The seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God…”
A very concrete way to measure whether we fall into idolatry – placing activities, persons, things as more important in our hearts than a relationship with God as Father – is to examine how we live Sundays. Whereas Jesus may not enter our parish church to cast out pews or tables, He might perhaps cut out some of our activities on Sundays.

We have fallen to utilizing Sundays as just “another day” of the week. Now, we certainly can utilize time on Sunday for recreation in various ways. But it is helpful to remember that the rest is to be oriented in refreshing our hearts for joy in the Lord, in the abundance of His gifts, and in sharing His love with those in need, in our families and in our communities. Rest is sacred time, and the Lord desires to spend that rest with us, to renew us for the week to come. 

Outside of Mass, how do you keep Sunday holy? What activities do you do or not do to foster a deeper relationship with God and with your family? How can you rest with Jesus?

Next: Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetere Sunday
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A weekly web series by Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces us to the meditations for this Sunday's Mass 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.

A weekly web series by Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces us to the meditations for this Sunday's Mass 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.

When you’re at Mass and you receive Jesus in Holy Communion, guess what? You may also hope to be in holy communion with your departed loved ones, a closer communion and a deeper love than you ever had on earth.