Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Homily by Elaine Pfaff ARCWP-Free Spirit Catholic Community , North Carolina


The Heart of the Matter ~ a homily with Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community

Elaine Pfaff, June 11 2023

               Readings:  Ex 19: 2 – 6 a, Rolheiser,/Isaish;  Matthew 9:36 – 10:8, selected verses 

Here we are at the near mid-point in the month of June, traditionally devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The heart of Jesus is dear to all of us and it is what I see in this piece of art by  my friend Mary.  Here is a heart that goes on beating for all of us.   *Show slide

And here is another visual  *Show slide

At the heart of the matter for us Christians, I believe ~ is how we carry the heart of Jesus ~ through both our pleasure and our pain.  We need to own these emotions, pleasure and pain ~ to journey with ourselves compassionately in all our emotions and to refrain from projecting them onto someone else or onto other groups. Psychology 101 teaches us that no-one can make me feel about myself that emotion which is not already there.  It's the difference between saying, for example “I am angry” instead of “You make me mad.” 

 At the heart of the matter is our choice of what to do with all our emotions,  without judging ourselves.  We can practice this spiritual skill in a variety of ways, one of them being meditation, which has proven to influence the frontal lobe of the brain so that we increase the gap time between a triggering event and our reaction to it.  We are given a space in which to make a choice so that we respond instead of react.

In the movie Moonstruck, Olivia Dukakas, in advanced years,  asks the question “Why do men chase women?”  That question was at the heart of her pain through the recent infidelity of her husband.  The answer:  “Because they fear death,” was enough for her to set the record straight in her relationship.  At the proverbial Italian table, she speaks the powerful truth “I love you.”  And her wandering husband responds in kind.  Just in movies, in fairy tales?  I wonder.  At the heart of the matter for each of us is a love that is unconditional, that forgives – that is – releases wrong doing.  

Releasing our pain is key to making more space for joy in our lives.  In The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama speaks of having been separated from his parents from an early age and visiting a Comunity of children also without their parents.  The suffering of the children is hard to hear, but that is what the Dalai Lama and care-takers did.  They heard the heart-break of the children.  And they went on to dance in the streets.  What is it?  Who is it ~ that bequeaths us such resilience at the heart of the matter?

    1.   This matter of releasing our pain is perhaps a key to making more space for joy in our lives. It is predicated on hope, the conscious or unconscious belief that pain might be transformed.   I do believe that the mystery we call God wishes our happiness, our complete well being ~ in body, mind, and spirit ~ to give us a future and a hope, as the prophet Jeremiah proclaims (29:11-1)

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