Sunday, 17 March 2013

"A Pure Heart Create For Me, O God"

Today's Gospel reading was a very moving and thought-provoking one. In it, a woman caught in the act of adultery is about to be stoned; when told of this, however, Jesus says that he who is without sin can be the one to cast the first stone. 

In other words, as we are all sinners, we do not have the right to judge others. None of us is perfect, and while our lives, beliefs, and actions vary greatly, the fact of the matter is, we are all children of God, flawed, but loved. We are called to remember this, and to apply it in our actions and attitudes towards others, not just during Lent, but always.

Something I have struggled with in the past is having negative thoughts and feelings about those who purposely and perpetually reject God and Jesus and seek to denigrate Christians. I have felt angry and offended by such attitudes and behaviours. However, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, we should not feel anger and contempt for others, no matter their actions. Instead, we should feel compassion.

The ability to replace contempt with compassion is something for which I have prayed to God on more than one occasion. God has helped me with this by helping me realize that those who have unfortunately distanced themselves from God's love are missing out on a truly wonderful experience. We as devout Catholics can attest to the astoundingly amazing feeling of God's love and grace. During difficult times, we can take comfort in this love and in our faith that God will provide for us. During happy times, we can cultivate gratitude and therefore joy unto the Lord, thus multiplying our happiness exponentially. Yes, being enveloped in the glory of God's love is a marvellous thing that is difficult to put into words, and I feel compassion for those who sadly cannot or choose not to be a part of this love.

We have discussed in previous posts about the positive things we can do to help others, even those we don't know, such as works of charity, prayer, and humble sacrifice. To take it a step further, let us strive to cultivate a genuine, humble, peaceful sense of compassion and caring for everyone, even if their attitudes and actions are not in line with our own. We can, as our seasonal Lenten Psalm tells us, ask God to grant us a pure heart.

Here are some excerpts from Psalm 51.

Refrain:
Have mercy on us Lord, for we have sinned

Verse 1:
Have mercy on me God, in your kindness
In your compassion, blot out my offense
O wash me more and more from my guilt
And cleanse me from my sin

Verse 3:
A pure heart create for me, O God
Put a steadfast spirit within me
Do not cast me away from your presence
Nor deprive me of your holy spirit


We see in this Psalm that asking for God's forgiveness and help in avoiding sin is just the first step in a true reconciliation. In addition to rejecting the negative, we are also called to embrace the positive; that is, we are called to become more pure of heart and to follow Jesus's example of love, charity, and mercy. We know from the Gospel that His love, charity, and mercy were not reserved for a select few, for those who were always above reproach; rather, Jesus loved and made time to see and help everyone. Let us try to follow in those amazing footsteps!  

It is not to say that we should ignore or accept certain behaviours that we know to be wrong. Rather, we are called, as my priest reminded us today, to "hate the sin, but love the sinner". I think these are wonderful words to live by. Emptying one's heart of negative attitudes and feelings and replacing them with love, compassion, mercy, gratitude, and generosity makes one's heart so light and more ready to give, forgive, and grow more fully in Christ's love.

Let us end with two more excerpts from two other songs that my choir sang today. The first is from "We Are the Body of Christ", a hymn written by the friend of a previous pastor, and the second is from "Get Together" by the Youngbloods.


We are the hands of Christ
We are the hands of Christ
We will lift up our hands
We will tear down the walls
We are the hands of Christ

-----

Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now


Finally, let us all take a moment to pray in thanksgiving for our new pope, Pope Francis, and to ask God to bless him and help him to lead our Church in the most Christlike manner possible.

May God bless you, today and always!

- Karen

5 comments:

  1. Great post!

    Really thoughtful reflections. I most liked the following:

    We see in this Psalm that asking for God's forgiveness and help in avoiding sin is just the first step in a true reconciliation. In addition to rejecting the negative, we are also called to embrace the positive; that is, we are called to become more pure of heart and to follow Jesus's example of love, charity, and mercy. We know from the Gospel that His love, charity, and mercy were not reserved for a select few, for those who were always above reproach; rather, Jesus loved and made time to see and help everyone. Let us try to follow in those amazing footsteps!

    and

    Emptying one's heart of negative attitudes and feelings and replacing them with love, compassion, mercy, gratitude, and generosity makes one's heart so light and more ready to give, forgive, and grow more fully in Christ's love.

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  2. These blog posts make my night every time I see them. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  3. Beautiful post. It is sad how some people can take Christ's words and twist it to fit their convenience. It is our christian duty to help others draw near to Christ and I believe part of it is helping them realize their wrong doings. However, pointing out others' wrong behavior with arrogance is unhelpful. Let us instead take Christ's advice from Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

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  4. Thank you very much for the feedback and discussion, everyone! I really appreciate it!

    Erin, you make a great point that when we strive to help others, we must not do so with arrogance, but with humility, gentleness, and genuine love - the way of Christ. Thank you for sharing! :)

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