I suspect that Pope Francis has been reading Food For Faith this week collecting thoughts for his own homilies for these first days of Lent.
Yesterday I reflected on whole-heartedness as not just an option or a capacity but as a fundamental human need: “Humans are designed for whole-hearted living and, whether we make the conscious choice to live whole-heartedly or not, we will find ourselves giving ultimate priority to one thing, person, project, goal, ambition etc. Whole-heartedness is built into us by divine design. My problem comes when I live with a divided heart, as if whatever I choose to be my number one priority is capable of providing the answer to life’s hungers and longings.”
This morning I read Pope Francis’ Ash Wednesday homily and he makes my point with much greater clarity and conviction:
“Return to me, Jesus says, with all your heart. Lent is a journey that involves our whole life, our entire being. It is a time to reconsider the path we are taking, to find the route that leads us home and to rediscover our profound relationship with God, on whom everything depends. Lent is not just not about the little sacrifices we make, but about discerning where our hearts are directed.“
Pope Francis continues:
“This is the core of Lent: asking where our hearts are directed… Do I have a “wobbly” heart, which takes a step forwards and then one backwards? Do I love the Lord a bit and the world a bit, or is my heart steadfast in God? Am I content with my hypocrisies, or do I work to free my heart from the duplicity and falsehood that tie it down?
I had a bit of a breakthrough moment while doing yesterday morning’s crossword. In the back of my mind I was wondering about what I might share in today’s FFF reflection, and “fulcrum” was one of the answers in the crossword. It’s not a term we use every day, but “fulcrum” is a great word meaning the point against which a lever is placed, or something that plays the central or essential role in an activity, event or situation.
Think of the point where the seesaw or scale balances on its base. And this is the image that is staying with me, the importance of the fulcrum.
Too often I feel “out of balance” as burdens and projects and demands and fears tip me from one mood to another reaction and back again.
What kind of life is this endless seesawing? It’s no life at all, more of an exhausting existence.
And now I think of the fulcrum, the stable point, firmly grounded, earthed against the shocks of life. Around me others can tip and twist all they like but my fulcrum is the life of my heart, my soul, my place of personal encounter with Jesus who is God-with-me.
Today Jesus is inviting me to stop all my exhausting seesawing and to get grounded in Him. I’m doing that when I set aside time to be still and silent, with Him. The invitation is to let Jesus take the central or essential role in every activity, event and situation.
In today’s psalm, a prayer that was known by heart by Jesus, God carries me back to that place of stability, peace and joy. I begin by expressing my success and achievement, my desire for God and my default need; “Have mercy on me God, in your kindness… Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom… A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.”
- Psalm 50, the well-known “Have Mercy on me O God in your kindness” prayer is prayed every Friday morning in the Liturgy of the Hours, and is the responsory psalm for today’s Mass. You might like to use the Lectio Divina links below to pray with the psalm.
- Another option is to listen to one of the most famous musical settings for this psalm by Gregorio Allegri. It is 12 minutes, and in Latin which helps us to focus not on the text but on the moods communicated by the music, a feeling of helpless calling out to God for mercy. Listen at this link. Miserere.
- Pope Francis’ Ash Wednesday homily at this link.
- Thank you to all who have responded to my inviting financial support for the Food For Faith mission. Further information about how you can help at this link: Supporting Food For Faith.
Lectio Divina 15 minutes
Lectio Divina 25 minutes