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SPIRIT MATTERS: Being a human after God’s own heart

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light. — Matthew 11:28-30

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Jesus told us that his heart was “the” textbook. . . . What made his heart unique was that it was a fully evolved heart, a Sacred Heart. Jesus called his followers to take upon themselves the hard work of pushing their hearts to develop beyond their present stage. — Edward Hays

I look forward to it every year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is always in June. Although it is currently October, I have once again been contemplating Christ’s heart, as the model which Christians are called to emulate in their lives.

The Feast makes for a good opportunity to devote the whole month of June especially to meditating on Christ’s heart. And when I refer to “heart,” I don’t refer only to the organ that beats in one’s chest. Biblically speaking, one’s heart refers to the totality of one’s being, the summation of who they are. But meditating on the qualities of Christ’s heart doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be limited to one day, or even one month each year. In fact, for those truly committed to following Christ’s teachings authentically, his heart, and his Spirit, should always be the guiding force in their lives, in everything they do and say privately and publicly.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while still practiced in many areas of the Church, is not as widespread as it used to be. Personally, I don’t care for the saccharine images that formerly were so prominent with the devotion. I’m guessing those doe-eyed likenesses of Jesus might not be attractive to others either. Fortunately, I have come across a couple of good contemporary books that treat the subject with a modern eye.

Although religion itself is no longer as commonly practiced as it once was, returning to a devotion to the heart of Christ is just what this tired, worn, bedraggled nation and world needs.

For any of you who might think otherwise, Christ himself tells us in the Gospel of Matthew his heart is “meek and humble.”

That means it is not proud, vengeful, mean-spirited, warmongering or any other of the countless spiritual illnesses that beset our world today.

And the problems we face at home and abroad won’t improve until we get that.

Underneath all the chaos we see on the surface in the world today, beyond all that which blinds us, there beats the steady, loving heart of the Christ, sustaining and sending his lifeblood to the world.

If you are a follower of Christ, if you believe he is who he says he is, if you want to find the peace that only comes from listening to and following his teachings, than your heart needs to be conformed to his ‘meek and humble’ heart. For further exploration of just what emulating Christ’s heart means, check out Matthew 5:3-12:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The good news is Christ wants to give us a share in his heart, and he is willing to make that happen.

Do your part by giving your heart to him and asking him to transform it into his likeness.

For his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

And it is there you will find rest for yourselves.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality.. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.

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