TENDERNESS OF HEART – MK 8:11-13
What a sorrowful scene is presented, Jesus,
in the event recounted today.
You are going about loving, touching,
and healing those who draw near to you,
who open themselves to your gentleness,
who are courageous enough to be vulnerable
to what you have to offer.
But then the Pharisees come, not to hear,
not to be receptive, to be touched,
to be loved, challenged, transformed, or healed,
but to argue with you and to ask for a sign.
And the Gospel says that you
“sighed from the depth of your spirit.”
You have groaned before this Jesus, recently,
when you brought the deaf and mute man
into a place of solitary intimacy, and,
touching him in his vulnerability,
you looked up to heaven, to your Father,
and groaned…a groan of compassion,
of prayer and intercession,
which receives what it asks.
Your groans and your sighs, Jesus,
come from the depths of your Sacred Heart,
moved deeply by the burdens we carry,
yearning and aching to deliver us.
You have taken upon yourself, upon your shoulders,
all this pain and suffering, toil and longing,
and carry it for us and with us, so we may be free.
And in this Jesus, you are also free,
for the burden you take does not hinder you
from being who you truly are:
the beloved Son in the Father’s bosom,
who, loved in this way, loves as he has been loved.
You expressed this compassion, too,
in your words to your apostles:
“My Heart is moved with pity for the crowd.”
How affectionate you are, my Jesus,
how human, how sensitive, how alive!
You have truly taken on all our emotions—
the chords of responsiveness
that are unique to the human heart
with its tender feeling and defenselessness.
And in doing this, Jesus, you have made it,
this real, concrete, fleshly nature that is ours
and that you have espoused as your own—
you have made it, Jesus, a bridge to divinity.
For in your sighs, your groans, your aching sorrow,
we see clearly manifest the compassion of the eternal God.
There is a direct correspondence
between the one and the other,
for it is one Person alone, the beloved Son,
who experiences it all, and lives in it fully.
The Ocean of the Godhead is contained,
fully, in that tender and vulnerable human Heart!
And now your tenderness encounters
the hardened hearts of the Pharisees,
who refuse to open the door to One who knocks,
but only want to knock you away with arguments.
And your compassion is stirred by this too,
and you groan in sorrow and anguish…
for you love these men too, in their resistance,
in their rejection of the gift you came to bring.
But now is not the time to break through,
by an external efforts, their resistance,
and so you get in the boat and leave,
going to the other shore.
It is not through a show of power
that you soften the hardened heart,
but only through increased vulnerability,
through the Passion in which you take up,
into yourself, their pain, their sin,
and show them the Love that is,
always, stronger that evil and death.
But in this vulnerability you are not truly wounded,
defeated by the venom of men that attack you,
for while your Heart is given in love and compassion,
it nonetheless finds its strength, its identity,
not in them, but in the love of your Father,
in whose sheltering arms you always remain.
By carrying these two things together
—the beauty of the Father’s eternal love
and the pain and sinfulness of humanity—
within your Sacred Heart, simultaneously,
you bind them together again, reconciling them:
in your intimacy with your tender and loving Father
and your compassion for wayward and sinful man.
And the greater reality, the victorious one,
is the love and intimacy that is your very life,
that joy of embrace between Father and Son
in the single Spirit who is your embrace.
This joy, encountering our resistance, our hardness,
simply becomes a flame of compassion,
becomes the embrace of tender mercy,
and takes us up into itself,
so that, in the warmth of its own tender love,
it will gradually soften our hearts and set us free.