Daily Reflection
February 15th, 2003
Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial - St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J.     - Saint of the Day
Genesis 3:9-24
Psalm 90:2, 3-4, 5-6, 12-13
Mark 8:1-10

O God, what will You do to conquer the fearful hardness of our hearts? 
Lord, You must give us new hearts, tender hearts, sensitive hearts, 
to replace hearts that are made of marble and of  bronze. - from Claude de la Columbiere, S.J., "Give us New Hearts".

"In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,"
"They ate and were satisfied."  - Mark 8

On Jesuit liturgical calendars, we remember Claude de la Colombiere.  His ministry in 17th century France coincides with the conflicts between those who had a very dark view of the human person and those who celebrated God's love and mercy.  Claude's words and prayers are powerful witness to his faith in God's love.  As confessor and spiritual companion to St. Margaret Mary, Claude became the proponent of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  To those who were in fear that they had little or no hope of salvation because of their sins, Claude preached about the love of Jesus for us, in an image so real, so human - Jesus' heart on fire with love for us.

In the Genesis story today, we read the grim story that tries to explain the trials and tribulations of human history.  God is a loving creator and all our troubles are our own making.  We shut ourselves out of the Garden, with the Tree of Life at its center.

It is in the miracle of the loaves and fishes that I find consolation today.  It is good to reflect upon being in a "deserted place," with nothing to eat.  That's usually where we find ourselves, when we let our "hungers" get out of control.  It is when we feel like we are "starving" that we start to have a voracious appetite for almost anything that will comfort us.  It is our common pattern - too often, when we are feeling empty, or down, or discouraged, or lonely, we turn to some kind of self-pity or self-indulgence.  When we are at our worst, we can become the center of our world - everything's about me, my needs, seen from my perspective. 

The disciples of Jesus are tempted to excuse themselves from this "state of hunger" that surrounds them.  Jesus pushes them to share what they have.  They resist, as we so often do:  We have so little, barely enough for ourselves.  What is the little I have going to do, to make a difference for anyone else?

Then the miracle happens, as it always does.  When we participate in God's own self-giving-away love, there's plenty - always enough.  When I die to myself as the center of the world, I see the relationship between what I have and the needs of others.  I notice that there is someone very close to me who is starving.  I care less about my stuff and become engaged in caring for another, with Jesus-love - a love that is free, thought-less of self and limit-less.  Then it happens.  Our hard hearts are made new and are set on fire with love we didn't know we were capable of.   And, how could I have ever worried that there would be "enough" when there's twelve baskets full of love for tomorrow's left overs?

Then we discover who we are again.  We are not created to feed ourselves.  That's why it is never ever really ful-filling.  We can only feel the deep and balanced contentment God desires for us, when we are feeding others.  For we are never closer to Jesus than when we are being like him. 

Come Holy Spirit of Jesus,
fill the hearts of your faithful people.
Enkindle within us the fire of your love,
that we might join you in renewing the face of the earth."

"My God, I believe most firmly that You watch over all who hope in You, 
and that we can want for nothing when we rely upon You in all things; 
therefore I am resolved for the future to have no anxieties and to cast all my cares upon You. 
I know that my confidence cannot exceed your bounty, 
and that I shall never receive less than I have hoped for from You."  - Claude de la Columbiere, S.J.

Prayer to the Providence of God.

Give Us New Hearts

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