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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Barron » Robert Barron - To What Does Your Heart Belong?

Robert Barron - To What Does Your Heart Belong?

Robert Barron - To What Does Your Heart Belong?

Peace be with you. Friends, last week I talked about the beautiful juxtaposition between a reading from Isaiah and a reading from Luke's Gospel. Well this week, a juxtaposition between Jeremiah and Luke's Gospel, and it's wonderful because each one kind of sheds light on the other. Let me start with these simple but very, very profound words of the prophet Jeremiah. It's from the seventeenth chapter of his book. Listen. "Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD".

You say, well he's being pretty negative there isn't he? So we shouldn't trust in human beings? No, no. See, when the Bible talks about the heart, as Jeremiah does here, "whose heart turns away from the LORD", the heart names the deepest center of one's life and consciousness and activity. His mind and body and spirit and all that. But heart names, if you want, the organizing center of one's entire life. So who has your heart? To whom does your heart belong? You could have a whole range of interests. Your mind and your passions and your vocational life, they can all be preoccupied with a lot of different things. You can trust in human beings, meaning you accept that they've signed a contract with you or you trust that person's going to be my friend. He's not talking about that. He's talking about, where do you place the allegiance of your heart? What does the deepest organizing center of your life belong to?

If it belongs to any human being or indeed to any flesh, that means anything in this world, Jeremiah says you're in a bad spiritual space. Always down on man or he's down on nature, he's down on human beings? No, no, no. No, no. Biblical people didn't think that way. They loved the material world. They loved the world of flesh. They have nothing against flesh. These aren't Platonists or Puritans. But your heart should not belong to anything in this world. The deepest organizing central principle of your life must belong to the Lord alone. Then, then, everybody, as I've said before, the rest of your life falls into right order. Then your friendships and your relationships and your business interests and your entertainment interests and scientific interests, everything you could possibly do in this world now finds its right order around this center.

This is a wonderfully important spiritual exercise. Ask yourself: To whom or to what does my heart belong? Be honest fellow sinners. See, because look, we're all sinners. I'm a sinner, everyone listening to me is a sinner, which means we tend to have divided hearts at best. You know, if you're really in a bad spiritual space, your heart belongs to money. It belongs to your political party. It belongs to this world. That means you're in a really bad space. But the Bible also knows about the divided heart. Yeah, my heart to a degree belongs to you, Lord, but it's divided. It's also interested in these other things. No, no. What did Jesus say by the way? "How blessed are the single-hearted". That's good biblical talk. How blessed are the single-hearted. That means your heart belongs uniquely to God. "Hear, O Israel! The LORD your God is LORD alone. Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind".

Now does that mean I have no interests whatsoever outside of God? No, no. It means my heart belongs to him, and now all my other interests find their place around that great organizing center. That's what Jeremiah is saying here, which is terrific. Now listen. The one "whose heart turns from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth". Beautiful, beautiful. What's it like when your heart belongs to someone or something other than God? You dry up. You become lifeless. Like if you've seen this plant or bush out in the desert, yeah, I guess that's a bush, I can recognize it, but it's not alive. The thing is hopeless. The thing is dead. It's dried up.

And again, I'm not pointing the finger, I'm pointing it at me, fellow sinners, a lot of us are like that. We're like these trees out in the desert. We look like human beings but we got no life in us. We've got no life because we've not hooked our heart, our deepest center, onto the source of life, which is God. I don't know why this language stays in my mind but, "stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth". In the measure that we're all sinners, we know exactly what that feels like, don't we? We know exactly what that feels like. I might be a big deal, I might be very impressive in other ways and people think I'm doing great, but I know, because my heart doesn't belong to the Lord, that my life has dried up. Now listen as he turns it around. This is still Jeremiah. "Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD".

Now there's that word, trust. Faith in the Bible, faith is not primarily an intellectual move. It has that as an implication, but deep down it means where I place my heart. What do I rely on ultimately? The one that trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord, what? "He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit". Gosh, how good that is. I'm hoping in the Lord. I'm trusting in the Lord. My heart belongs to him. I'm like a tree that's right by the stream. The roots are deep down and they're stretching right into the source of life so that, listen now everybody, so that even when the drought comes, even when the dry season comes, I'm able to thrive.

So failure comes, sickness comes, the death of loved ones comes, a sense of the futility of all of my practical enterprises comes. Okay. Okay. I'm all right because I'm planted near these running waters. My heart belongs to the Lord. All right. With that beautiful Jeremian vision in mind, now turn to the Gospel of Luke. It's Luke's version of what we find in Matthew as the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke, it's a Sermon on the Plain. It says here "a stretch of level ground". Does that mean these two are mixed up? No. Jesus probably gave a lot of similar teachings throughout his public life. Maybe once he did speak from a mountaintop as Matthew reports, and maybe another time a very similar teaching was given on a plain.

Okay. So they have different accounts. But listen now to his language. "Raising his eyes toward his disciples", and they're beautiful, because imagine the Lord looking right at you. You see, we're his disciples now. The people that first heard him, they're long gone, but we're still here. And so, lifting his eyes to us; imagine the Lord looking at you saying, "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours". Well that's kind of perverse isn't it? Why would we say poor people are blessed? No, but think about this. How blessed you are if you are not trusting in wealth. You're not planting your life next to that hopelessly dry stream. You're not hoping or trusting in that worldly, fleshly reality of wealth.

How blessed you are, lucky, fortunate, happy you are, if you're not grounding your heart in that reality. He goes on. "Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied". So now he's glorifying physical hunger? No, no. Read it this way. How happy you are, how blessed, how lucky you are, if your heart does not belong to the sensual pleasure of this world. Is that an enticing thing? Look around the culture, people's attraction to food and to drink and to sexual pleasure. I mean you can read a lot of our culture under that rubric. Even the fact as I've said before that the pornography industry in our country is a multi-billion-dollar industry. These are people who have invested their hearts in the sensual pleasures of the world. But that's a salt and empty earth that leaves you profoundly unsatisfied at the level of the heart. "Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh".

So what, now we're glorifying depression? No, no, no. How lucky you are, how blessed you are, if you are not grounding and rooting your life in good feelings. Good feelings are great when we have them. But isn't it true now, fellow sinners, we all know this, good feelings, they come and they go. Yeah. Sometimes I wake up and I'm in a good mood. Other days I wake up and I'm in a bad mood. Sometimes my moods correspond to what's really objectively happening in my life. Other times they're not. Sometimes this thing really makes me happy. Other times it makes me kind of moderately happy. Other times it seems to make no difference. See, feelings come and go. But there are a lot of people in our society who are addicted very deeply to good feelings. They'll take any sort of drug they can find to produce good feelings.

Again, good feelings, like wealth, like sensual pleasure, they're good in themselves, I have nothing against good feelings; but they come and they go. And the heart, the heart, your deepest center, the organizing principle of your life, needs to be grounded not in those ephemeral passing states of mind but in God. Otherwise you're in a salt and empty earth. And then this one. "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day"! What?

Now you're telling me I'm happy if people hate me and persecute me? No, I'm saying don't plant your heart in the honor the world can give you. Honor's not a bad thing. Aquinas says honor is the flag of virtue. It's a cool definition. If there's a virtue, something worth admiring, you put a flag on it. You say, "Hey, look at that. That's worth paying attention to". The trouble is a lot of us get addicted to honor, awards, attention, titles. "People love me. I'm popular". Look at who's popular in our culture today. Best people? The most morally upright people? The most impressive, artistically gifted people? By no means.

The passing, the fickle attitude of the crowd. Give me a break. Fame, honor? Very often we honor the very worst people. Often the very best people are dishonored. Therefore how lucky you are, how blessed you are, if you do not ground and root your heart in the passing frivolous honors the world can give. You see how Jesus now is making the same point Jeremiah is making, and it raises for all of us today that question. To whom or to what belongs my heart, my deepest center? Unless it belongs to the Lord, then we become this dried up tree in a salt and empty earth. But if it is rooted in the Lord, then we thrive. And God bless you.
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