Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
Doing a live radio interview can be tricky business. You don’t know what questions will be asked, and you don’t have time to pause in silence to think through what to say. The question comes, and you’re expected to respond. But such interviews are also quite revealing. Given the immediacy of radio, what is said is less likely to be filtered through all the computations before it is said. Speaking on the radio is often a window onto a person’s unfiltered heart.
We all face similar situations in our daily lives. Those prickly conversations – sometimes more arguments – at home; the personal question asked of you in an unguarded moment; the workplace conversation about colleagues. What we say out loud reveals something of what we hold in our hearts.
Of course, we all make mistakes in what we say out loud, and the more personal the matter the harder it is to find the right words to say. So, I’m not wanting to make life miserable for us all by denying that what we believe – our hearts – and what we say – our words – are not always easy to get into synch. Nonetheless, it is worth our while to check what our hearts might really believe by being attentive to what we say in our more unguarded moments.
This matter of getting our heart-mouth synching aligned is what St Paul was on about in our second reading today: By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. What we each hold within our hearts is a good indicator of the rightness of our relationship with God, with others, and even with ourselves. That’s what righteousness means – fostering right relationships; and being righteous with God is about being in a right – a good – relationship with Him. But how might the state of our hearts be evident to others? It will often show in what we say – what we confess – with our lips.
We would all do well to think of Lent as a time to work on our relational synching with God. Jesus is coming to us with a gift this Lent, the gift of his saving death and resurrection. He offered his sinless self on the cross – in right relationship with his Father – so that we might be saved from our sinful selves – to re-establish our right relations with Him. Lent is leading us to this most precious reality. So, getting our heart and mouth in synch would be a good thing. Practicing the disciplines of Lent – prayer, penance and charity – will focus our attention on what matters.
Jesus is not only our Saviour in this regard, leading the way, but he is also our model, showing us how. His fasting and prayer for 40 days in the wilderness had helped him to get his synching aright. His heart was full of trust in his Father, and he was able to respond with words that matched. The Devil showed him tempting options, but Jesus optioned for God alone – heart and mouth aligned. Where Jesus has courageously gone, may we trustingly follow.
To repeat Paul’s encouragement in this regard: If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. Make this Lent your time to get the heart-mouth synching aligned.