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, July 26, 2007

Gross heart

Many words are understood in different ways, depending on the vagaries of history and culture.

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 13:10-17), our Lord uses the word “gross”.

Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“Gross” is the English word traditionally used in translating this passage. Unfortunately, for many today, especially many young Americans, “gross” means “disgusting.”

That may sound somewhat appropriate (“Like, sinners have hearts, y’know, that are like totally GROSS. Ewww!”), but the original word (the Greek word in the New Testament and the Hebrew word in the verse being quoted from Isaiah 6:10) comes much closer to the English word “fat” (and the traditional sense of “gross” as “large”).

This, of course, opens up a fresh can of worms in our politically correct culture.

Indeed, the original word carries the connotations of “fat” as thick, stupid, and sluggish: the very worst stereotypes that have been ascribed to people of girth.

A great counter-example to that stereotype is depicted in the current movie “Hairspray” which features a young and rotund leading lady who is very bright, extremely talented, and extraordinarily nimble.

Actually, this cinematic example might be interpreted as having symbolic value (unintended by the show’s creators).

Our hearts may indeed be fat, complacent, thick, stupid, and sluggish, but the grace of God can nonetheless make them dance and sing with charity, devotion, and faith.

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of Thy faithful
and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.