A Test of the Heart…

angry girl

“More torturous then all else is the human heart, beyond remedy who can understand it?  I the Lord explore the mind and test the heart… (Jeremiah 17:9-10).  The Son of God has a Heart.  His Sacred Heart inflamed with love is also a wounded heart.  His Heart is wounded by sins of ingratitude…sins against faith, hope and love.  Yet His Heart still burns for us…

I once heard a story about Brother Juniper that you can find in the book entitled: The Flowers of St. Francis.  Brother Juniper, in his innocence, at times made people angry.  There was one time at Christmas where a poor woman asked Brother Juniper for alms.  He saw that the cloth on the altar had some costly bells on it.  So, Brother Juniper cut the bells and gave them to the woman in need.  The sacristan in anger took the cloth to the Superior General who then corrected Brother Juniper with severity.  Brother Juniper delighted in being corrected (yes delighted) and wanted to find a remedy for the Superior General’s hoarse voice.  So, he went to town to buy flour and butter to make a pudding to help soothe the Superior’s hoarse voice.  Brother Juniper made the pudding, and upon waking his Superior General at a very late hour he said, “Father, when you reproved me today for my faults, I perceived that your voice grew hoarse, and I thought it was from over-fatigue.  I considered what would be the best remedy and have had this hasty-pudding made for you…I pray you eat of it…for it will do you good.”  After the Superior angrily refused because of the lateness of the hour, Brother Juniper said, “Father, since you will not eat the pudding which was made for you, at least do this for me: hold the candle for me and I will eat it.”  Then the general, seeing the piety of this friar answered, “Well, since you will have it so, you and I will eat together.”

I really like this story.  Brother Juniper was so free…even though people were angry with him and did not understand him, he was so free.  He did not allow the anger of others to take away his peace, nor did he turn in on himself getting discouraged and upset that he made a mistake.  Brother Juniper knew that he had good intentions for why he responded to the woman’s request…and so he was able to be at peace, no matter what the other Brothers, or even the Superior thought of him.  Brother Juniper used this opportunity to love…to really love.

Our hearts are also wounded.  We have had times where we have been hurt…sometimes very hurt.  And what is our reaction on a natural level?  Anger.  Yes anger.  We have all been angry have we not?  We have allowed emotion and passion to get the better of us!  There are times where we have lost our temper, for things small like: who did not pick up their socks?  Who left these dishes in the sink?  We lose our temper over bigger things, like when someone has cut us off from traffic, or when do not get what we want.  We are angry when we lose someone we really care about…and we grieve…and we want to blame someone…sometimes we blame God…sometimes we blame ourselves or others.  When we lose someone we torture ourselves and live in a state of regret and guilt: “If only I would have had the opportunity to tell them how much I cared about them…if only I could have had the courage to say that I was sorry…if only I could have been able to speak the healing word to them…if only I would have thought before I acted…if only I could have just loved that person, for who they are instead of who I wanted them to be…if only I could go back in time, and fix what I have broken…and the list goes on and on and on.  Living in a constant state of regret and guilt is making us look at ourselves…we are not looking at Christ! There is something disordered there…we are afraid to accept our own brokenness and we are afraid to forgive ourselves…and so we get angry.  We are angered when someone offends us very much…when someone says something, or does something that leaves a deep wound…a deep scar, that can only be healed with love and the grace of forgiveness.

For those of us who are perfectionists, we tend to get angry that everything is not perfect…including ourselves!  We tend to get upset that the people around us are not perfect.  We imagine that we ourselves our perfect, and are not able to accept others who do not meet our standards.  What is the cause of our misery?…I hate to break it to you…WE are the cause of our own misery.  We are bringing it on ourselves…we are allowing ourselves to be angry and freely choosing to live in a sea of pain and regret.  What can be done?

Let’s look at the life of Jesus.  He suffered people’s jealousy, ignorance, the pain of not being understood or accepted even in his own country.  Yet, what does Jesus do?  He forgives and He loves them so much that he died for them.  The Son of God would rather die then spend eternity without us.  Is the love I have for those who have hurt me like the love of Christ?

When we are angry, our heart is tested.  The love in our heart is put to the test.  Are we willing and able to feel the injustice and pain of the hurt and still forgive?  Jesus is with us in the pain, and loneliness…Jesus is attracted to brokenness.  In imitation of Christ, we must make reparation for the people who have hurt us.  This means we must be able to offer our prayers, works and sacrifices for people who make us angry or who are angry themselves.  We can only defeat evil through love!

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