A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What are you looking for?

In today’s Gospel (Luke 16:19-31), we hear the familiar story of Lazarus and the rich man.

At the end of the story, the rich man insists that if he were to come back from the dead to warn his brothers, that miracle would move them to repentance.

Abraham the patriarch disagrees.

If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.

Of course, there are people who say in their hearts (or more loudly) that they are looking for a miracle to reaffirm their faith or some other explicit sign from God to bring them to faith.

History, however, is on Abraham’s side. While miracles can be occasions of grace, from the apostasy of the Israelites in Sinai to the scandals among some miracle workers today, miracles have also been demonstrated to be no guarantees for those who behold them.

Part of the reason for this is that, although we may say we want them, miracles in themselves may amaze the mind and spirit but usually provide little direct substance for the human heart.

What satisfies the human heart is addressed more directly in today’s first reading (Jeremiah 17:5-10).

More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart...

The human heart craves not miracles, but rather companionship and the living water of love.

Tragically, many of us try to satisfy these cravings the wrong way.

Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.

The pursuits of the flesh do not answer the true need of the human heart: they only bring distraction and, in the end, even more emptiness.

He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.

Even the most wonderful human companion cannot alone fill the need of the human heart. Augustine, of course, put it best.

O Lord.... thou hast made us for thyself
and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.
(Confessions I,1)

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.

Only the grace and love of God can satisfy fully the cravings of our human hearts.

Only the grace and love of God will sustain us when our life seems an empty waste and human companionship has failed.

Only the grace and love of God will carry us all the way through on the journey on which the Lord has put us in this world and bring us, in his own time and wonderful way, to the happiness and contentment that will never end.

May we keep our hearts open to our Lord and God, Jesus Christ our Savior.