Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bible Reflections from Fr.Tom Luke 6:45

It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” Lk 6. 45c

There are several other renderings of the same passage: “For a man’s words flow out of what fills the heart (NAB). “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (ETV).

Jesus was speaking in the context of giving principles of life that should guide a Christian. Just before this he spoke of the good tree giving good fruits and bad tree giving bad fruit. This sentence we are figuring out is a beautiful summary of it. It is another principle of life to guide ourselves by. You give what you have.

I recall an incident from the era of the infamous Berlin Wall that separated the Communist “heaven” of the East Berlin from the free West Berlin. Barbed wires and armed guards with fierce hounds on leash prevented those from outside to get in nor allow those inside “heaven” to get out. The life in East Berlin was horrible, many risked their lives to get out to the free world. Many died in the attempt. Guards marched up and down the artificial separation, day in and day out. As could be imagined, the soldiers often became quite bored of this task they had to do. They sought some relaxation. So the soldiers on the East Berlin side made a parcel of some very filthy things, packaged it nicely and threw it over the wire fence. Soldiers parading along the West Berlin side, more to help the escapees than to guard, picked up the parcel. When they opened it they were deeply disgusted. They wanted to play the game, so they went to market and bought lovely chocolates, toffees, and goodies that were hard to come by in “heaven” and made a parcel of it and threw it across with a note attached: “ Everyone gives what he has most”!

We cannot give what we have not. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If your heart is full of venom, hatred, violence, rape, murder, and abuse, it will surely pour out when they can act out these ideas with impunity. Godara and Orissa are fresh examples of this. If your heart is full of love, forgiveness, peace, joy and brotherliness, it is sure to pour out when there is need for it. Jesus was full of forgiveness and love, so in his final moments of extreme agony on the cross when one would have expected him to get engrossed in his own agony, but he cried out those immortal words: “ Father, forgive them for they know now what they do” (Lk 23.34, cf.23.43). Jesus’ heart was full of this forgiveness, so no wonder that is what poured out of him in his final hours of suffering. That was how Stephen died, with forgiveness on his lips for his murderers (Acts 7.60).

This is why St. Paul writing to his Christians of Philippi urged them: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4.8-9).

Paul earlier in the same letter to his dear Philippians asked them to have the mind of Christ: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…..” Phil 2.5.

Our Christian formation must be to fill our hearts and minds with the spirit and “mind” of Christ. In a world filled with values and maxims contrary to Christ’s values, we need to heed the advice of Paul to his Christians of Philippi quoted above. While we live in the world we must not allow its values of exploitation, pleasure seeking, deceit, murder and the like to invade our hearts (cf Rom 7.7-25). Be careful of what you listen to, read, speak about and think about. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…. (Rom 12.2)..Be careful of what you watch especially in the internet. How many young people have had to shed bitter tears for having allowed themselves to indulge themselves in it “for just once!” What we watch in the quiet of our rooms and cells and internet caffes, have a tendency to get chiseled into our minds with terrible consequences. Remember how fragile we are: 2 Cor 7.7. Unconsciously the venom is sure to worm its way in your heart. It is very difficult to get ourselves detoxified of it except by the Blood of Christ. So be aware! Be warned!

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