The seeing heart

Pencil Preaching for Friday, June 18, 2021

"Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be" (Matthew 6:21),

2 Cor 11:18, 21-30; Matt 6:19-23

St. Paul must have been pushed to the wall by conflicts in Corinth and those who questioned the authenticity of his ministry. He lays out his credentials as an Apostle in a litany of suffering and sacrifice no other Apostle could match.  He proved his devotion to Christ by the rigors and challenges of his ministry: beatings, imprisonment, hardships on the road and at sea, danger from bandits, opposition from within and without.   It is an impressive record.  Whatever happened to him during his conversion, Paul was unquestionably motivated to show his love for Jesus.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul again recounts his credentials by birth and as a Pharisee, then says he counts “everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8). Later he says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus also took hold of me” (3:12). Jesus is the center of his existence, the source of his life., the treasure in his heart.

Today’s short Gospel reveals the secret of Paul’s enduring love.  Jesus tells his disciples that what they treasure they will love.  He warns them not focus their hearts on material things that are perishable. Store up treasure in heaven. In fact, if we ask people what they treasure most of all, they will usually point to their relationships with children, spouses, family and friends.  The heart is our secret place where God sees us, where what is most important is cherished and protected.  It is, so to speak, where we keep our personal safety deposit box, reserved for our most important papers and most valuable possessions.  Poet e. e. cummings has these words to describe love:

 i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Life is defined by this treasure held in the heart, carried everywhere, the organizing principle of everything we do and value.

Jesus also emphasizes the importance of seeing correctly, avoiding the blindness that pride and selfishness can inflict on us.  Spiritual blindness deprives us of inner light, insight and understanding.  Jesus uses a metaphor that captures the severity of this kind of blindness.  He says that if darkness becomes our light, we are in a terrible place, as are those who deliberately choose darkness over light. He wept over the leaders in Jerusalem for refusing to see the light he was offering, knowing they were dooming the city to destruction.  Without conversion, described as “seeing the light,” blindness becomes spiritual death.

In St. Exupery’s “The Little Prince,” the fox tells the boy the secret of loving as we should. It is to know that “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  Put your heart in order first and you will always see clearly what is essential.    

Pat Marrin

Pat is the former editor of our sister publication, Celebration, and he also served as NCR cartoonist. After retirement in 2016, Pat continues to contribute to NCR with his Francis comic strip and Pencil Preaching.  Contact him at patrickjmarrin@gmail.com


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