The Desires of the Human Heart

16 March 2006: Thursday of the 2nd Week of Lent
Luke 16, 19-31: The Desires of the Human Heart

Note: An alternative homily is also in the previous post.

Tonight, we talk about the human heart. The words of Jeremiah in today’s 1st reading sound a theme that reaches back to Genesis: “More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy,” the prophet declares. This was God’s conclusion too in the aftermath of the flood: “The desires of man’s heart are evil from the start” (Gen. 9:21). Second, today’s Gospel parable probes the mind and tests the heart of a rich man, for the instruction of Jesus’ hearers. The perversity of the rich man’s heart is revealed in his neglect of the poor man who lay at his door.

But, we also hear the “other side” of the human heart. The first reading tells us about the heart who must trust in the Lord. The responsorial psalm sings of the heart that hopes in the Lord. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, who hopes in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretch out its roots to the stream.” And the Gospel tells us about the heart that yearns for food, and the heart that thirsts. This is the desire that yearns for God.

The desire for God cannot resist the man who desires Him ardently.

That is the reason why we do not find God: we do not desire Him ardently enough. Our lives are crowded with far too many other things and we can get on pretty well enough without God.

St. Augustine tells us of the restlessness of the human heart that cannot rest till it has found its rest in God. Without God, for whom we are created, we are like fish out of water. We do not find the agony of the fish because we kill the pain with a host of other desires and pleasures, problems which occupy our minds.

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