What's in Your Heart?

Readings: Jer 17:5-10 ; Lk 16:19-31
More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? Jer 17:9

A common reaction to today's Gospel is: "How could the rich man be so blind to the fate of the poor beggar?" This reaction would occur again if one traveled to India or Africa to witness the great destitution of people, while in America we spend millions of dollars on such things as new sports stadiums and shopping malls.

Our shocked reaction can be tempered a bit if we consider, in our first reading, how tortuous the human heart really is. The twisted nature of the human heart is rooted in the reality of original sin. Original sin is the first sin of Adam - that of disobedience to God - the effects of which have been passed down to us all.

The result of this infection is that our souls are weakened, and we are all more inclined towards sin and evil. The consequences of original sin have quite a debilitating effect on our ability to do good.

It is hard for us to imagine how spiritually poor we all are as a result. The prophet Jeremiah expresses this when he writes that our twisted hearts are seemingly beyond remedy. That is why it is so important to stay close to Jesus.

In John's Gospel, Jesus says, "I am the vine and you are the branches, ... without Me you can do nothing (15: 5). Dependence on the grace of God is imperative if we are to change ourselves and hence our ability to reach out to others in most need. Without God's grace, then, we should not be surprised at some of the evil we human beings are capable of. A famous saying of St. Philip Neri was: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." Understanding the twisted nature of the human heart in light of original sin teaches us that we humans are capable of doing anything when the life of grace is spurned. Trusting in the mercy of God is, therefore, our only true remedy.

Lord Jesus, through the gift of self-knowledge, inspire me to seek and depend upon Your grace to do all things, especially by reaching out to those most in need. Amen.

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