I will write it upon their hearts...

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Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for homily

“I will place my law within them,
I will write it upon their hearts, says the Lord.”

What the prophet Jeremiah describes here
is a kind of spiritual open-heart surgery.

Let me ask you a personal question:
“Who gets to write on your heart?”

Who has access to my heart, such that he, or she, or they
might write upon it??

Talk about intimacy!

This is access to the very core of who I am.

My parents wrote on my heart in the language of DNA
- at the very moment I was conceived.

My mother was writing her love for me on my heart
and I was writing on hers in the intimacy of her womb
- months before I was born, before I knew a single word.

When I was a child my parents, my family, my friends, my teachers
all had opportunity to write upon my heart.
Before I had a choice to accept or reject what they wrote,
others were writing and leaving their messages on my heart.

What some people wrote was loving, helpful and life giving.
What others wrote may have been wounding, hurtful and harmful.
Some wrote the truth on my heart and others wrote lies.

Some of what was written was illegible and to this day,
I’m trying to figure out what the message was, what it meant for me.

As we grow up we become more protective of our hearts,
we begin to shield them, allowing only a select few to write on them.

Perhaps the pain of words written earlier in life
lead us to deny others access to such a vulnerable place.

Perhaps there were times when we were desperate
to have someone write something,
and so we opened our hearts foolishly and indiscriminately.

Most of us, along the way, chose one other person, perhaps a few,
to whom we open the slate of our hearts.

Certainly, when those we trust walk gently into our hearts
and inscribe there words of love and faithfulness,
nothing is sweeter, no message kinder,
no memory more satisfying, no intimacy more lasting.

Perhaps my words here have led you to a place deep in your heart
where words and messages have been inscribed
and have been found sometimes loving and helpful,
sometimes painful and hurtful.

It’s in just that place in your heart and in mine
that the Lord wants to write his word:
the law and promise of his love.

It’s in our heart of hearts that the Lord wants to write
the word he has for each one of us.

Perhaps what he desires to write on your heart
is a word of healing, or a word of forgiveness, or a word of challenge,
or a word of comfort.

It might be a word of great tenderness to console you
or a word of strength to give you courage.

Each of us can be sure of this:
whatever word or message the Lord wants to write on our hearts
that word, that message is the one we need to read.

Jesus allowed his Father to write on his heart
and so there were inscribed there the sins of humankind,
including yours and mine.

They were written on his heart so that he might carry them for us
and redeem us from the harm our sins do
to others and to ourselves.

The Lord is always ready to write upon our hearts
but Lent is a special time each year to open our hearts
so that the Lord might more freely and easily inscribe on them
the word, the message we most need to read,
whatever it might be.

In the sacrament of this altar the Lord gains access to our hearts
when we open ourselves to receive his Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Christ is the grain of wheat who fell to the earth and died
to yield a harvest of God’s mercy for us.

Christ it was who laid down his life
so that our hearts might be saved for eternal life.

Christ is the one lifted up from the earth
so that all of us might be drawn to him.

May the food of this table help us trust in the Lord
whom we receive in Communion.

May our hearts be laid bare that he might write upon them
the word, the message each of us most needs to read this Lent.


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  1. This is the fourth time I have come back to this since Sunday. I find it so very beautiful--it truly touches my heart.

    What a blessing you are for this reader, dear Austin!


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