“Head or Heart?”

358It starts with mother. (Actually it begins and ends with the mother, but that’s a different sermon.) Our faith begins with the faith of a mother. Sorry dads, I know your faith is important to you also, but, I think you’d agree, there’s a special mystery about our faith’s transmission from mother to child. Whether it’s mom strong faith or faultering faith, the impact is strongly carried within us.

When mother sternly says, “Did you say your prayers?” sounding like she also said, “Did you clean the bathroom?” Her intentions and hope are the same.

Just as we’ve emerged from her, mother cooks for us faith’s first tastes. Who else laments during those college years when we conveniently forget to attend Sunday Mass? Faith (belief in God) or anything beyond ourselves is contagious. In our early years, in church, we mimic the actions of others hoping to please God.

Jesus expresses authority in his teachings, in directing us toward life’s the purpose and meaning. They say, “He talks to us like no other.” “How did the kid from Nazareth get all that!” I think a better word than “authority” is Jesus speaks to us with sincerity. He means what he says. Moses, in the first reading, says God will tell us what to say. Jesus didn’t need to be told what to say. His truth lived and came to us – from his heart to ours.

The opposite of all this are those darn demons in the gospel. One writer says, “Demons believe in a savior” but a true believer says “our Savior.” How can a single letter like the letter “a” cause such a division? The conflict, according to the writer, is between the head and the heart. The head speaks a company’s policy without thinking, but the heart constantly beats for genuineness after careful reflection and prayer.

Being a priest has its occupational hazards as in my following example but what other reference can I use? I’m not a parent and my two cats don’t care what I believe! Over all my years, people tell me that they can detect a sincere priest. They can hear the difference between heart and head. Priests can speak from their heads as well as anybody. We are all susceptible to that, but it’s a mother’s faith that either brings us back or forces us back to the heart’s honesty.

Faith? Can we be candid in sharing our faith with each other? Can our “heart” question or doubt without receiving a “head’s” response from a good friend? Can we be honest with each other in our mutual search attempting to unravel mysteries? (And if you’re among those who’ve solved a mystery in your certitude than it’s no longer a mystery – that’s that demonic “head” talking its head off instead of a pondering, listening heart.)

Kids say today, “Keep it real!” and Jesus says to us every day, “You believe me because you trust me because I’m honest with you.” Believing him and believing in him gathers us here yearning for that honest and truthful heart.

The old TV show was called, “Father Knows Best.” That’s very true in many matters of life, but when it comes to faith, we know mom’s TV show title would be something like, “Mother Shows Us Best.” It’s only when we thank mother for her faith and make this gift of faith, as Jesus did, truly our own that we can say, “Keep it real.”

First Reading: Moses said, And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.”

Gospel: “and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available in paperback or Kindle
on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com.
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