From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks”, teaches the Gospel of this 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Surely all of us have already heard this Bible verse that finds an echo in different popular expressions. The heart has always been identified as the seat of wisdom, the intimate life of the person. Through the mouth, we express that which we are or that which we are not. We certainly know people who give us peace and people from whom we want to keep a distance. Nobody can give what he or she does not have, that’s quite natural.
This Sunday’s liturgy contains a series of short teachings aiming to help the believer who is treading upon the path of this life. The Wisdom books (from which the Ecclesiastes reading was taken) are a collection of practical teachings on various subjects of human life; the wisdom of the man and woman of the bible was built on the experience of everyday life. The just are those who manifest their faith by their deeds.
Both in the first reading and in the Gospel, we find the following theme: “The word reveals the heart of man…”. “By his speech a man reveals himself” (Cf. Ecclesiastes 27:7-8). We live in a society where a person’s word is no longer trustworthy. A person’s word does not count as trustable. We need documents, signatures, and all means of guarantee. In this Internet times, when the peoples’ words “are if they were not” (cf. Is 40:17), words have become even more present, though they are not so reliable. In this society made of illusions and appearances, where the word of a person is worth as much as it can bring profit, one often prefers to sell his or her word to the sin of hypocrisy and to speak ill of others rather than help them realize their shortcomings, a charitable attitude according to the Gospel (cf. Mt 18:15-20). We are well acquainted with the phenomenon of “fake news”, a beautiful term to speak of an ancient evil, gossip and lie.
We communicate using words. Through the mediation of words, we show forth what we bring within us. It was through the Word that God revealed Himself, that He bore witness to His love for Israel and for all of us. Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh, all that God is becomes somehow visible in Jesus Christ. God shared his life with us through his Revelation. By the mouth of the Prophets, the Sages and the Apostles, the will of Go and His inner life were announced to us.
Our speech is never so simple. Whenever we say something, we express what we think and what we bring in our inner secret. If our speech is enriched with good feelings, with good wishes for others, this is an indication that, inwardly, we are getting matured and grown in fairness towards the neighbor and ourselves as well. A good heart manifests itself with good attitudes, as Jesus teaches us when he says that ” from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks”. If we come to admonish our neighbor, our word to him or her must be nourished with good intentions and a sincere interest in helping them; thus, we demonstrate that their lives are meaningful and valuable for us.
The Lord is calling us to look at ourselves, without fear, without costumes and masks. If we live before the face of God, we will not need the consolation of power, status, and the illusions we create for ourselves in order to show us off. Before God, we are what we truly are. And God’s invitation is that our actions and words may really correspond to our inner essence.
Let us ask the Lord for us to be sincere and coherent, treading upon the true way, without clinging to appearances and stereotypes of any nature. God always wants us to be ourselves, not anything else. That is why He has given us the wonderful gift of life. May our faith be the guide and light of our actions and choices. Saint Gregory of Nyssa (4th century) said that
“the coherence between the inner and the outer man appears harmonious if Christ’s thoughts guide and move the modesty and honesty of our lives” [from “The Treatise on the True Image of the Christian].
As believers, we are committed to making our words and actions an expression of our faith. The psalmist (cf. Ps 91) tells us that the purpose of our lives, as disciples of the God of life, is “to proclaim His goodness, His faithful love…”. May our discipleship be a constant look to Christ, the model of the “perfect man” (cf. Eph 4:13).