Why We Need To Weed The Garden Of Our Hearts

At his best, like in this homily, Fr Vallee makes the work ahead of me as a Christian abundantly clear and slightly depressing. But it is not an irrational depression, just one commensurate with the task ahead. A sample from his homily:

We get so caught up in ego. Pride, jealousy and malice, meanness and insecurity haunt our hearts. These things, coming from inside, defile us and make us unclean. I fear that if someone disrespected me, I would put up more of a fight. But all of that is ego and nonsense. All of that is poison, it oozes from a discontented heart and makes everything unclean.

To be Christian is to be like Christ, to point beyond yourself. In John’s Gospel, when Jesus performs a miracle, and the crowd begins to praise him, Jesus cuts them off: “You don’t understand. These are not wonders, it is not about me, these are signs of my Father’s glory.” If you are only pointing to yourself, accumulating honor and glory for yourself, you are not Christian because you are not acting or thinking like Christ. Sin is not a monstrous demon waiting to overpower us from the outside. Sin is a tricky little devil who hides in our hearts, planting small seeds of malice, meanness and pettiness which, left to grow, bloom into great and terrible evils. Take care with the little things. Be gracious, kind and patient. Keep the garden of your heart free of weeds. … As I always say sometimes: “In a world where Jewish carpenters rise from the dead, everything is possible.”

The email address to request to be put on Vallee’s email distribution list is Cioran262@aol.com. To see the entire homily click on ‘read more’ below. Search for other Fr Vallee homilies in this blog by entering ‘Vallee’ in the search box in the upper left hand corner or look for Fr Vallee in the linked Labels.

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Fr Valle Homily – Aug 30, 2009

I. Gospel
I am struck by a line from today’s Gospel. Jesus says: “Nothing that goes into a man from the outside renders him unclean. Rather what comes out of a man’s heart makes him unclean.” When Jesus first spoke these words, they were, perhaps, the most revolutionary thing he ever said. Jews had suffered and died for dietary laws. Jesus was dismissing all of that with one fell swoop. Little wonder people were upset. People never like change: “All of a sudden we can eat pork as long as our hearts are pure!” Worse than that: “You mean it does us no good to refrain from pork if our hearts are impure!” Many of you are old enough to remember how scandalized many people were when they found out that they were not going to hell for eating meat on Friday.

II. The best and the worst
Jesus is clear that good and evil are about what is in our hearts, not what is in our bellies. Sin is an internal, not an external, matter. Today I would like to speak of one of the best priests, and human beings, I have ever had the good fortune to know and work with. He was a man who was pure of heart. If I ever grow up, I want to be like him.

III. Gilberto was the best
My second pastor as a priest was Fr. Gilberto Fernandez, now Bishop Fernandez. Please pray for the good bishop. He has been very ill for several years now. Bishop Gilberto was the pastor when I was the associate here at St. Kevin’s. Those of you who remember him know he was a wise, kind and gracious man. I remember someone once said if him: “Gilberto Fernandez is a perfect Christian gentleman.” Anyhow, when I was here, I was the only priest in the parish whose first language was English, so I did most of the English masses. One Saturday, a man came into the rectory and asked to speak to the pastor. The secretary called Fr. Fernandez. Fr. Gilberto greeted the man. The man, a little annoyed, said, “no I want to speak to the English pastor, the young guy who does the masses.” Most people would have at least corrected the man, asserting their position as the actual pastor of the parish, many priests, I fear, would have berated him, Fr Fernandez did neither. He smiled kindly at the man and said: “Wait a moment, I will go get Fr. Vallee.”

IV. What would I have done?
Think about this little story. It should make you easy; it makes me uneasy: “How would I have reacted in the same situation?” We get so caught up in ego. Pride, jealousy and malice, meanness and insecurity haunt our hearts. These things, coming from inside, defile us and make us unclean. I fear that if someone disrespected me, I would put up more of a fight. I would let ego take over and tell the old man, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m the pastor!” But all of that is ego and nonsense. All of that is poison, it oozes from a discontented heart and makes everything unclean.

V. They think they love God, they only really love themselves
To be Christian is to be like Christ, to point beyond yourself. In John’s Gospel, when Jesus performs a miracle, and the crowd begins to praise him, Jesus cuts them off: “You don’t understand. These are not wonders, it is not about me, these are signs of my Father’s glory.” If you are only pointing to yourself, accumulating honor and glory for yourself, you are not Christian because you are not acting or thinking like Christ. Sin is not a monstrous demon waiting to overpower us from the outside. Sin is a tricky little devil who hides in our hearts, planting small seeds of malice, meanness and pettiness which, left to grow, bloom into great and terrible evils. Take care with the little things. Be gracious, kind and patient. Keep the garden of your heart free of weeds. As for me, if I ever grow up, I want to be like Bp. Fernandez. I don’t mean I want to wear his miter or carry his crozier. I mean I want a heart that is simple, pure and kind. I know I am not there yet. But as I always say sometimes: “In a world where Jewish carpenters rise from the dead, everything is possible.”
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
This entry was posted in Catholic Faith & Inspiration and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why We Need To Weed The Garden Of Our Hearts

  1. Robert says:

    That was an inspiring homily. Reminds me a little of this section of Psalm 34 which was featured in last week's mass:

    Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

    It's not just about keeping your ego in check under ordinary circumstances, but keeping it in check when you witness and/or experience a wrong. That's even harder to pull off.

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