From Paul wrote ….

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

(From the Daily Office Readings – 2 Corinthians 3:1-2 – March 28, 2012)

Last Sunday the Year B Revised Common Lectionary for the 5th Sunday in Lent called for a reading from the Prophet Jeremiah which included these words from God, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” (Jer. 3:33) My son Patrick, who is a priest in Kansas, preached a marvelous sermon on the Jeremiah lesson which is posted on his blog. In it he makes reference to a rabbi commenting on that text, “Well, God writes his Law on our hearts so that when our heart inevitably breaks, the Law falls in.” Here Paul takes up the “writing on your heart” image applying it not to the Law but us, to the Christian community as a whole and to each individual Christian. I think the Rabbi’s words apply equally well to Paul’s use of the metaphor. When our hearts inevitably break, what falls in is no longer only the Law, but also our brothers and sisters in faith who fall into our woundedness to help us heal. ~ I remember that Christ began his ministry by reading from the Prophet Isaiah in his hometown synagogue, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me … to bind up the brokenhearted….” (Isa. 61:1, although as quoted in Luke 4:18-19 these specific words are not included). If that was part of Christ’s mission (and I believe it was), it is now our mission. ~ I remember the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.” So it is fitting that we are a letter written on one another’s hearts; it is fitting that we fall into one another’s hearts when they are broken, for it can only be through us that the Lord “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:3) ~ I remember, finally, a sermon preached when I was in seminary. It was preached on the evening of February 24, 1991, the day President George H.W. Bush ordered US forces to invade Iraq. The preacher began, as Episcopal clergy often do, with a prayer of dedication. On this day he said, “In the Name of God the Brokenhearted.” It is a turn of phrase that has stuck with me through the years; it calls to mind a verse in Scripture, “And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (Gen. 6:6) ~ As I read my son’s sermon, as I ponder Paul’s letter, and as I again remember that opening dedication, I wonder …. who falls into God’s heart when God’s heart is broken? Who heals the broken heart of the Healer?