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  • Writer's pictureSteven Marsh

An Enlightened Heart: a Reflection on Psalm 109, Isaiah 40:25-31, Ephesians 1:15-23, and Mark 1:14-2

We make much of the Enlightenment, as we should. The Enlightenment that period of history (the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe) emphasized reason and individualism and deemphasized tradition. The mind is God’s gift to human. And we must be critical thinkers.

But we also must be cautious. The mind is not an end to itself, as many have made it. The mind is not superior to God. The intellect is significant, but it is not supreme. The mind is a means to a greater end. And let’s not forget that Church.

Nor is the heart an end to itself. To empathize, understand, and show compassion is keen, particularly in an “Enlightenment” culture. The psalmist wishes that his antagonists would get theirs. One even gets the sense from Isaiah that those who perceive themselves cognitively superior compare themselves to God when no one or nothing compares to God. Creation can never compare to God.

Paul yearns for human to have an enlightened heart. So whereas the mind came alive in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, Paul wants to see human hearts enlightened. And what does an enlightened heart look like? Compassion infused with hope; empathy exuding inheritance. Wow!

Following Jesus’ baptism and temptation, the statement is made that the Kingdom of God had come near. It is that Kingdom that Jesus told the first disciples to follow. To become fishers of men (humans), the disciples would need to be enlightened of mind and heart. Think and feel that calling…fishers of men (humans).

My neighbors and people whom I encounter everyday on the streets want something different. Could it be that an enlightened heart is what human really yearns to receive from another human? Hmmm? Learn a lesson or two Church! It is better to mobilize around enlightened compassion, justice, and humility than correct intellectual doctrine. For those who are seeking a better way to live, an enlightened heart is more compelling.

Scripture readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.

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