"If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament [the Eucharist], I am sure that the thought of Christ's love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude." - St. Angela of Foligno
Gospel text (Mk 8,14-21):
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, "Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod."
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
"Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?"
They answered him, "Twelve."
"When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?"
They answered him, "Seven."
He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"
“. . . are your hearts hardened?”
This question of Jesus to His disciples is ironically apt for Valentine’s Day. So, more surprising still, is the realization that the very notion of heart is itself biblical, quite independent of how it may be translated. The word “heart” occurs 550 times in the Old Testament, 128 of these in the Psalms alone. And it doesn’t stop with the Old Testament. Jesus used “heart”, as in today’s reading, over 50 times in the New Testament.
Think of just a few of the phrases using heart: we’re soft-hearted when we’re kind and compassionate, hard-hearted when we’re mean and uncaring. We’re faint-hearted or stout of heart; we get to the heart of the matter. When we’re disappointed, our hearts are broken; and when we’re happy, our hearts are bursting for joy. Where our treasure lies there will our hearts be also. God told Ezekiel that he would replace the stony hearts of his people with hearts of flesh. And Luke tells us that Simeon told Mary, at the presentation of the infant Jesus, that through her the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed. And after her two visits to Jerusalem with her Son, we read that Mary kept these things in her heart. How natural that seems!
Our Lord never misses an opportunity to teach and today being Valentine’s Day is no exception. So when considering a gift for the ones you love most, along with the standard box of chocolate hearts, “given in” to Jesus’ Sacred Heart. This is the best imaginable valentine gift of all, for it endlessly pours itself out in self-giving.
Hard as that may seem, our baptisms make it possible. Never forget, Jesus has given us a heart transplant – His own!
Happy Valentine's Day!!!