Notice During the Covid-19 Outbreak
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Radical Liberation of the Heart
A Reflection from the Christian Traditions
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
September 27, 2020
As we look back over our lives, we become aware of the many people who walked with us. Some challenged us to our excellence while others may have invited us to entertain our vices. Some blessed us while others provided unnecessary obstacles. The fact is we are who we are in light of our actual history. Courageous people do all in their power to wrestle with life as it is, striving to be better people no matter what their life experience may have been.
When bad things happen to the people we love, resentment and bitterness come knocking at our doors. We are often tempted to retaliate as if what we abhor is some new moral standard. The person who enjoys radical liberation of heart strives to be true to their heart.
In the Gospel for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus spins a remarkable story of two brothers. The first one is a “yes” man who does nothing, the other is honest with his feelings, wrestles with his impulses, and, in the last analysis, is capable of admitting his fault. This brother who wrestles with his impulses is faithful to himself joining the great community of thieves, liars, and sinners who heard the Word of God in the proclamations of John the Baptizer and followed after Jesus on the pathways of life.
Note how Jesus condemns no one. Rather, the “saved” have the privilege of entering the Kingdom of heaven “first”, that is, they have the privilege to open the door for everyone else. People who have failed know firsthand how important it is to forgive others and themselves.
John the Baptizer was one of the people who challenged Jesus to embrace his excellence. John was perhaps the most important person in the life of Jesus. He baptized Jesus as Jesus was filled with the Spirit. John first proclaimed him as the “anointed one” of God. John mentored Jesus as Jesus took his first steps to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Jesus remembered John at the critical junctures of his outreach to the poor and afflicted, the sinner and the stranger.
The parable of the two brothers could easily stand alone. Jesus takes advantage of the situation to vindicate the work and person of the Baptizer. This action on the part of Jesus emphasizes how important John was to Jesus.
John the Baptizer invited people to repent and walk in the ways of righteousness. Actually, the
word “repent” can mean “change of mind.” We live in a World where changing our mind is seen as a sign of weakness. Imagine if we took John seriously and actually changed our minds based on facts. Imagine if we changed our hearts based on the needs of others. Imagine if we challenged our attitudes and, like the second brother in the parable, came to the aid of another.
Change of heart invites us to open the door to those we might judge harshly. Perhaps the time has come to “repent”, opening the doors of our souls so others might find in us someone who loves them no matter how great their failures might be, no matter how great our failures might be. At least, this little parable of Jesus gives us something to think about.
Gratitude to you, Holy Community, for opening the door of your heart. Blessings to you, Holy Community, for opening the door of your mind. Thank you for all the times you pondered in your heart and blessed another.