What is inside of our hearts? Ash Wednesday 2021
The gospel chosen for Ash Wednesday ends with these profound words: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This exhortation of Jesus invites us to this question: Where is our heart? Or said in another way: What is inside our heart?
Briana my 12-year-old daughter, drew a heart map not too long ago. Inside that heart, she drew eight smaller hearts. Each map contained words of cherished treasures inside of them. One contained the words “family and friends;” another “Japan,” (she dreams of going to Japan one day); another with the word “candy,” (something that is not good for her teeth). Another said, “my phone;” another “baking;” yet another “drawing and painting.” The hearts continued to reveal her favorite things and hobbies. One gave tribute to her beloved cat and the last one was “roller skating.”
The map intrigued me, so I was quick to chat with her about its contents. Briana is a smart, kind, loving, focused, young lady. She loves her family, comes to church with us, and prays with us every night. So, I was somewhat surprised that the word “God” was not there. I asked her why and she didn’t know what to say.
Friends, where is our heart? And what do we have inside of it? We usually find in our hearts God and people. So, God, family, church, friends; God and people, relationships are in our hearts; not things but God and people.
We are encouraged to love God and people only and to only like things. But our culture has twisted the desires of our hearts. We find ourselves today liking, disliking, and even hating people; while we love things and ignore God. Many of us do not have God in our hearts.
If we allow our love of things to replace God and people, how does this impact our lives? Will this way of living bring us peace, joy, and hope?
In my house I don’t have an attic, but I do have some room under the stairs to store things. It is a dark and an uncomfortable place where we store our suitcases that we have not used in the last two years, toys that my daughters are not using anymore. I don’t even remember what else is in that place, but I know that there is a lot of dust. We never clean it, so it is a very dusty place.
If we go back to what Jesus says to us in this gospel, we know we don’t want to clutter our hearts with things. We don’t want to store them in a dark and dusty place. Jesus invites us to take our hearts away from those dark and dusty places, because He doesn’t want us to have a dusty heart. He wants us to have a clean, fresh, healthy, young, holy… as the psalm says, “a pure heart.” (Psalm 51)
The heart of a Christian, the heart of a follower of Jesus needs to be a pure heart. A pure heart is a heart that knows and chooses what is right and truthful. It dwells where there is mercy and compassion.
The season of Lent comes to us every year. It gives us forty days and forty nights to work in our hearts and minds and wills to help us to see what is within our hearts and to take out what is causing us pain, suffering and death.
Jesus went into the wilderness, a desert to look at his heart and He decided to keep his heart pure and clean until the end of his life. Also, he decided to spend his life, his entire life, helping us work on our hearts and souls so we can be clean and acceptable to God.
Let’s do this job this Lent again. We need to look at what our hearts love and want. Fasting, praying and almsgiving enable us to see clearly what the inclinations of our hearts are, and to lift them up to God, to our families, our church members, neighbors and others who are open to accept our love, so we can live in a world of peace, love and hope.
So, what is in our hearts? Let us find out. Amen.