In a Lukan parable, Jesus uses the image of “storing,” accumulating and building up a certain quality inside one’s heart. What should be stored there, He proclaims, is goodness; if rooted firmly in peoples’ hearts, then good things will follow. This is logically clear but its accomplishment, as we know, is a whole other matter. How does someone go about increasing that store of goodness? How create that bountiful heart which overflows into good effects?
The simple answer is love, the kind that Jesus preaches and lives and dies for. This would include love for friends and family, but expands further into that much wider loving which cares for everyone and everything in God’s creation. However, the not-so-simple answer gets tangled in the webs of everyday existence; i.e., the concrete ways in which loving gets inserted into a life and rooted in a person’s core — or in Jesus’ words, “gets stored in the heart.”
One way to this gospel benevolence would be to line up (and then follow) Jesus’ teachings: the beatitudes, the virtues, the commandments, the lessons of the parables, and so forth. But might a more practical approach be to set our days and nights under the light of certain questions: how could I inject more love into my present attitudes and actions? How could my motives center more on benefitting the other? What concrete things could I do to bring more quality, substance and comfort into the lives around me?
Such actions would work to “heart-store” that very goodness Jesus mentions. Not that a person would have no concern for self, but rather his or her leaning would tilt just as much toward the other. In reverse terms, rather than beginning my day striving to make the world revolve around me, how might I step into others’ shoes so as to better appreciate their challenges?
Those others? Certainly, family members and neighbors and fellow citizens. But especially for people in Vincent’s Family, those on the margins who stand that much less chance of receiving others’ care. And especially in these days, all those threatened and frightened people now suffering in the Ukraine.
Jesus ends his lesson with a flourish: “From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
- The more a person’s heart is filled with goodness, the more and more this goodness spills over into life.
- The more this other-centered focus comes to dominate one’s days and nights, the more Jesus’ Kingdom of justice and love breaks into this world
It’s through such loving actions that the mouths of men and women will indeed be “speaking from the fullness of their hearts.”