The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 17,  2019 Cycle C

by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes Cortes, F.S.C.B.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s collect says: “O God […] You abide in hearts that are just and true.” We can easily apply these words to Saint John Mary Vianney, whose incorruptible heart we have had the privilege of venerating these days here at the shrine. All of us should emulate Saint John Mary Vianney, in whose heart God dwelt, in order to become dwellings of the divine presence. Through Saint John Mary Vianney’s transfigured heart, many blessings have come and continue to come into the world.

This week, as I was listening to the radio while commuting to the shrine, I was struck by a song whose lyrics describe the longings of the human heart in a dialogue about the human condition:

Tell me somethin’, girl

Are you happy in this modern world? Or do you need more?

Is there somethin' else you’re searchin’ for?

[…]Tell me somethin’, boy

Aren't you tired tryin’ to fill that void? Or do you need more?

Ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore?

This song is a perfect expression of the longing in our hearts. Nothing and no one of this world can fill the void we feel. We need much more than what life alone can give us. We try to forget what we are by trying to entertain ourselves. We try to fill the void with what is within reach but become disheartened. Today’s first reading says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth” (Jer 17:5-6). When we try to find fulfillment for our hearts in people and things, instead of in God, we find barrenness, boredom and loneliness.

The “something more” that we need to search for, as in the song, is the infinite. It is God himself. We need the eternal that brings meaning to life. In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1 Cor 15:19).

Saint John Mary Vianney filled the void in his heart with Jesus’ presence. The thirst of his heart was quenched by Jesus’ Sacred Heart: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him’” (Jn 7:37).

Today’s first reading says: “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD” (Jer 17:7). Then today’s psalm says: “He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade” (Ps 1:3). Encounter with Christ transforms barrenness into fruitfulness, boredom into delight and loneliness into communion.

With the Sermon of the Beatitudes, Jesus promises everyone an unimaginable fullness of life: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). The Curé of Ars was poor but possessed all things in Christ. He was hungry for the infinite and was fully satisfied. He wept for his own sins and for the sins of the people, but his heart laughed merrily. He suffered persecutions and but rejoiced. Like Saint John Mary Vianney, we are all called to the fullness of life and to be among the blessed. Only one thing is required: to allow Jesus’ heart to take possession of our hearts.

et us ask for the grace of a heart that is just and true. May our hearts be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit. May the example and intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney enable us to experience Christ as the answer to our hearts’ longing.  Amen.