God Is Greater Than Our Hearts

5 Jan

This week at Mass we’re being treated to readings from the First Letter of John. I thought today’s reading was especially inspiring, especially the second half of it:

“The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.

“Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God” (1 Jn. 3:16-21).

Today is also the feast of St. John Neumann, not to be confused with the recently beatified John Henry Newman. This 19th-century immigrant priest became known as the Apostle of the Alleghenies, and he later became the Bishop of Philadelphia. While most saints lived long ago in far away places, St. John Neumann is very much part of our own cultural history. This was brought home to me when I lived in Ohio. I belonged to the St. John Neumann Knights of Columbus Council, and in our St. John Neumann adoration chapel, we actually had baptismal and marriage records signed by none other than this holy cleric!

St. John Neumann eventually became a U.S. citizen, and he was the first U.S. bishop to become a saint. Let’s take this opportunity to pray, through the intercession of St. John Neumann, for our own bishops and priests.

Speaking of bishops and Philadelphia, I was edified to read about Archbishop Charles Chaput’s plans to sell the palatial archbishop’s residence, which I think sends the right messages to his new flock in Philadelphia. Like Cardinal O’Malley in Boston, Archbishop Chaput is a Capuchin Franciscan, whose simplicity and poverty can be a breath of fresh air amidst the scandals and parish closures affecting those two major archdioceses.

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