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Conditions of the Heart

by Feb 6, 2024Friar Reflection

In a way this is a follow-on from yesterday’s reflection. The first reading again concerns itself with King Solomon. It is part of the dedication of the first Jerusalem Temple (a longer version of which you can read in 2 Chron 6) and, in a way, marks the high point of King Solomon’s reign. While the famous request for Wisdom soon follows this passage, not too long after, the long slide into disrepute begins when Solomon will abandon the rules of the King (Dt 17) collecting wives, armies and gold – things upon which he will depend rather than the covenant loyal love from the Lord. The passion of his heart moved onto other things.

What will unfold in Solomon’s story stands in great contrast to his words of prayer from today’s passage: “you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants who are faithful to you with their whole heart.” And maybe that is a word of caution for each one of us. Perhaps our story includes great projects for the Lord. Maybe we didn’t build anything as grand as the Jerusalem Temple, but there were times we were passionate about ministry, studying God’s word, living a full sacramental life, and as yesterday’s reflection challenged: letting the glory of the Lord shine from your Temple into the world.

Perhaps there were times we our prayers were as fervent as Solomon’s, remembering St. Paul’s admonition: “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Perhaps like Solomon we have become distracted by events of the world, relying upon our own skills and abilities to move ahead, inadvertently turning to the idols of the world.

But there is another danger. Like the people of today’s gospel reading. We become people reliant on external ritual, tradition, and prayer that give honor to God on our lips, even as our hearts are far from Him.

Sometimes it is necessary to pause and reflect on the conditions of our heart. What is the focus of our passion? What is the condition of the temple of the Holy Spirit within? We live in the world, but has the world absorbed all our attention and energy? How is our prayer life?

That is a different question than “what” is your prayer life. “How” is asking whether your prayer life brings you into the presence of the Lord in your life, where from time to time we share in Solomon’s amazement: “Can it indeed be that God dwells on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple” of my life.

It is always a good time to pause and reflect on the condition of the heart, to check our passions. The Season of Lent approaches. Perhaps a good time to do a little “housekeeping” on the temple of the Holy Spirit within you.

Image credit: Original photo by Designecologist from Pexels | Canva modification | CC-BY