If 2020 showed us anything it revealed how necessary that kind of deep and intentional listening is, and how difficult it is to sort through all the voices we hear, both within and outside ourselves, and discern a truthful way forward. I don’t expect that kind of listening to be any less necessary or difficult in 2021. Who are you listening to these days? Who are you not listening to? What are you listening for? What do you want to hear and what do you not want to hear?
Spoken or unspoken, I think there’s a question every troubled heart is asking. Will the center hold or is everything collapsing around us? That’s my question and maybe it’s your question too. I think it’s one many are asking. And today Jesus answers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
We all face giants, Philistines, in our lives. Sometimes it’s personal and unique to our particular situation. Goliath might be an illness, loneliness, the loss of a loved one. Maybe a rift in a relationship is standing tall. Or maybe it feels as if your life is moving out of control and you’re powerless to do anything. Other times Goliath might be more systemic. It’s mass shootings in our country, violence throughout the world, war in the middle east, racism, immigration. Goliath shows up in lots of ways.
Every time Goliath shows up the battle lines are drawn. The battle is not, however, what we often think it is.
I don't think this story is simply about Jesus getting angry. Jesus got angry. I get angry. It's ok to get angry. That misses the point. There’s more to this story than that. And I don't think it's about the animals or the moneychangers being in the temple. Jesus surely had to have known they were there. He grew up as a faithful Jew going to the temple. He didn't show up this day and say, "Wow! There are animals and moneychangers here. I didn't know this. This is wrong." The animals and moneychangers had always been there. That's how the system worked. It was business as usual for them to be there.
Richard knew a “secret, a very simple secret.” He knew and trusted that “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, chapter xxi)
That is the secret that sustains us through our losses and gives hope on this day. It is the secret that makes life beautiful, relationships meaningful, and conversations extraordinary. It is the secret that lifts us up to see further and cleanses our eyes to see more clearly. It is the secret all our sacred scriptures try to teach us. It is a secret open to everyone and hidden from no one, but only those with eyes to see will understand it.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says. “Do not let your hearts be troubled?” Are you kidding me? Is Jesus really serious about that? Does he know what is happening in our lives and our world? How can Jesus say that with a straight face when he was troubled at seeing Mary and the Jews weeping at the death of Lazarus (John 11:33), when he said that his own “soul is troubled” (John 12:27), and when St. John tells us that Jesus “was troubled in spirit” (John 13:21)? What is Jesus telling us? It’s not as if there is an on-off switch for troubled hearts.
Psalm 86:11. "Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name." The palmist has named a truth about my life: I live with a divided…
Psalm 78:1. "Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth." Several years ago, I spent a summer participating in a pastoral care internship. As the summer progressed, I realized I was really doing…
Yesterday we began Lent with a couple of questions. What do you treasure? Where is your heart? Today we hear God’s answers to those questions.
Where we begin our Lenten journey is not as important as where it takes us. In the same way, what we give up, take on, or do for Lent are not as important as what those things do for us.