Live Jesus in our hearts . . . forever

GOD'S WORD TODAY - Jonjee C. Sumpaico, S.J. () - May 29, 2011 - 12:00am

It is kind of awkward that being a priest, I have to begin this article with a confession.

Here it goes. I have been allergic to the color green for a very long time. This reaction has grown in me ever since I entered preparatory school at the Ateneo de Manila way back in 1978. And after thirty-three years of being connected with the institution, especially when college basketball season sets in, my dislike for the said color heightens. In fact, my defenses go up when I see green and I find myself ready to go unto the fray.

End of confession. (And I hope you continue reading.)

In recent years however, I have experienced a growing fascination over an oft-repeated line in the prayers uttered by those from the greener side of the fence. This line that I find most endearing ends many, if not all, La Sallian prayers. It goes like this: “Live Jesus in our hearts. . . forever!”

The line is so striking as it makes a personal request from our Lord Jesus to make one’s heart His dwelling place. This prayer, this request comes from a person who knows that his heart may not be the most ideal place on earth to abide in. For one certainly knows that the heart  our emotions, our desires  has in one’s life been the cause of many hurts, misunderstanding, frustrations, helplessness, pains and a whole lot more. Yet as one invites Jesus to be with him, he trusts that God would transform a seemingly unlivable heart into the humble home of His Son. To ask Jesus to live in one’s heart is therefore to ask in total surrender, total trust and humility.

The request also comes about as something which is communal. It is not a prayer of a heart, but the prayer of many hearts. It is not just a prayer of my heart, but a prayer of our hearts. The prayer begs Jesus to be a living part of the communities we live in. It implores Jesus to reign in our thoughts, our words and our actions in our daily lives.

The readings of this Sunday particularly ask us to have our hearts ready for Jesus Christ.

St. Peter, in the first reading, even exhorts his flock to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” The Gospel also shows us Jesus’ promise that he will not leave us alone. Jesus’ promise of sending us his Spirit is his assurance that we will not be abandoned when we do not see him before us. He assures us that we will know the presence of the Spirit in the manner by which we look inside our hearts as we follow his ways. The Gospel even reminds us that to have our hearts in the heart of Christ is to love Him and obey his commandments.

We obey his commandments not because of fear  that someone greater than us might become angry at us if we don’t follow what is prescribed. We obey his commandments not because of reward  that we will be given great merit for the things that we do. We obey Christ’s commandments because of love  for to be loved invites us to love as well.

To love is to see that one becomes happy when one’s beloved is happy. To love is to understand that one feels sadness when one’s beloved feels sad. To love is to feel what one’s beloved feels. And the place of the beloved is always found in one’s heart.

Jesus Christ invites us to be our honest loving selves before Him. He gives us this invitation so that we may be fully alive and celebrate our relationship with Him without fear. Jesus invites us to have this sense of closeness to Him so that we may “feel with his feelings, with the sentiments of his heart.”

As we live life loving God, with all our mind, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength; and as we love others as ourselves, let us therefore surrender our lives with hearts that are free and let us continue to invite Jesus to let His Spirit dwell in us and be familiar with his loving presence in our lives. Surrendering with a heart that is free is to choose the ways of one’s beloved.

Joseph Tetlow, S.J. writes a beautiful prayer on choosing Christ in the world:

“I choose to breathe the Breath of Christ that makes all life holy.

I choose to live the flesh of Christ that outlasts sin’s corrosion and decay.

I choose the Blood of Christ along my veins and in my heart that dizzies me with joy.

I choose the Living waters flowing from his side to wash clean my own self and the world itself.

I choose the awful agony of Christ to charge my senseless sorrows with meaning and to make my pain pregnant with power.

I choose You, good Jesus, You know.

I choose You Good Lord;

Count me among the victories that you have won in bitter woundedness.

Never number me among those alien to You.

Make me safe from all that seeks to destroy me.

Summon me when I come to close my eyes in death.

Summon me to come to You.

Stand me solid among angels and saints chanting yes to all You have done, exulting in all You mean to do forever and ever.

Then for this time, Father of all, keep me, from the core of myself, choosing Christ in the world. Amen.”

May the choices of our hearts always be moments of growing freedom. To that, I have to agree with the imploring sentiments of my La Sallian brethren. I salute them with a loud “One Big Fight!” And I share their prayer, “Live Jesus in our hearts. . . forever!”

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For feedback on this column, email tinigloyola@yahoo.com


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