Source: Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Chruch
I read a true story about a man who was pinned in the wreckage of a train that was derailed in 2005. As he was left for dead bleeding profusely, he scrawled a message with his own blood to his wife and kids. An upended train seat sat right above him, and thinking he would die, he wrote what he thought would be his final message with his blood: “I ♥ my kids. I ♥ Leslie my wife.”
Several minutes later, after the medics rescued him, they saw the message on the bottom of the seat. The medic replied “I’ve seen some gruesome things on this job, but that moved me. My only thought was, I have to get that seat to his wife and kids.” Indeed, when receiving the seat from the medic, the wife responded: “Hallmark is never going to top that. It’s moving, it’s thoughtful and it’s chilling all at the same time.”
Infamously, February is the month of hearts, flowers and Valentine’s Day wishes. So often, we see the ♥ heart symbol without giving it a second thought. This month, let us reflect on our spiritual heart and examine the core of our being where we can love our enemies, find compassion for those who are suffering, and open our hearts to God’s love.
The Church sees the spiritual heart located in the bodily heart, yet beyond it. An Orthodox writer, Albert Rossi wrote “The heart is the inner chapel where Jesus and I co-exist, where we co-habitate. Jesus and I have the same dwelling place, my heart.” Bishop Kallistos Ware says,”that we contain within our person the universe, not merely the galaxies light years away but the great universe of the inner space of the heart, which is incomparably greater than the outside universe and is in the depth within the human heart.”
The Orthodox view the heart as the center of reasoning, where our thoughts begin and end, passing through the cerebral cortex on the way. The heart is the mystical spiritual center of personhood. The bible speaks of the heart as the place where the choice is taken for God. It is where we meet God and it is where God speaks to us. As we ask God to purify our heart through prayer, fasting, through worship, through sacrificial love He will create the gift of a clean heart in us to respond to every situation with peace, love, compassion and boldness!
The gift of Jesus Christ to our broken world was a sacrificial gift. His gift of love was not a sentimental message written with a symbolic heart ♥ but it was written in His blood that sanctified the world and continues to save us. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Wrapped up in that common word “gave” is a powerful truth. It means, “to give forth from one’s self,” which has no starting point or ending point. The love of God the Father was, is, and will continue to be a giving love, a sustaining love.
Listen to the Holy Scriptures as the words speak an important message about the heart. The Lord blesses the pure in heart: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt,5,8). God is revealed in the heart and it is there that man comes to know Him. The Apostle Paul writes that God’s illumination is there: God has caused His light to shine “in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4,6).
The same Apostle prays “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your hearts being enlightened that you may know…” (Ephesians.1: 17-18). “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10.
This month, may our Valentine gift to Christ be a true and sincere desire to offer Him a clean heart. Let us make room for Christ in our heart by starting and ending our days in prayer.