by Fr. Tommy Lane
The first reading (Year 1) commenced with man in the garden in Eden (Gen 2:4b-9, 15-17) and the Gospel concluded with a list of sins and vices coming out of man’s heart (Mark 7:14-23). Obviously something terrible happened in between: the Fall, when Adam and Eve succumbed to the devil’s temptation. The solution to this catastrophe is the One who is speaking in the Gospel, Jesus. The solution is for our hearts to become more like his heart. The closer our heart is to his heart, the more our heart grows to be what it is meant to become.
We see in the Gospel of John, in the Greek but not in English translations. At the beginning of the Gospel, John tells us that Jesus came from the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), from his kolpos (κόλπος) in Greek. Then later in the Gospel, during the Last Supper, the Beloved Disciple leans back on Jesus’ chest (John 13:23), again kolpos in Greek. So Jesus came from the kolpos of the Father, and the Beloved Disciple leans on the kolpos of Jesus and from this intimacy of the Beloved Disciple with Jesus we get the lofty spirituality and theology of the Gospel of John. The spiritual insights of that Gospel, which soars like an eagle, are a gift arising out of the intimacy of John with Jesus, a gift from the one who leaned close to Jesus’ heart. Staying close to the heart of Jesus describes what we want in our prayer lives. The coat of arms of Blessed John Henry Newman was “Cor ad cor loquitur,” “heart speaks to heart.” It reminds us that the desire of every human heart is to be in communion with God.
The food laws, which Jesus annulled in the Gospel passage today (Mark 7:14-23), were one attempt at remaining in communion with God but not very successful. They were a reaction to the time of forced secularization of Israel after it was taken over by Alexander the Great. Jewish people including many Jewish priests were only too willing to give up their Jewish practices for Greek secular ideals. The Pharisee movement, in response to that, with its laws governing every aspect of life, was trying to ensure holiness in all aspects of daily living. But they went from one extreme to the other and were trying to achieve holiness by externals whereas Jesus said holiness begins in our hearts. So the closer our heart is to Jesus’ heart, the more our heart grows to be what it is meant to become. Cor ad cor loquitur. While Jesus lists sins and vices that could flow out of our hearts (Mark 7:21-23), love flows out of his heart for us. There is one gift above all flowing out of Jesus’ heart for you, the gift of his priesthood. The Curé of Ars said the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus (Catechism of the Catholic Church, (§ 1589). In preparing to receive the gift of that priesthood, the love from the heart of Jesus for you, surely the place to be is like John the Evangelist, close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
© Fr. Tommy Lane 2019