“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” —Jeremiah 31: 33
The human heart is a vital organ, a big muscle that pumps blood through the vessels of our circulatory system, but the metaphorical heart is also a matter of life and death. It has been understood as the seat of our decisions and acts. In this way the heart is implicated in the choices of lovers and fools, and who among us hasn’t been both at some time in our life?
The metaphorical heart is also crucial for faith. I’m a pretty cerebral guy, but even so, it has more often been my heart than my head that has moved me Godward.
Blaise Pascal, the influential seventeenth century French mathematician, wrote this about faith and the heart: “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. It is the heart that experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason.”
We do need both head and heart for faith, but let us not neglect the heart. In Lent we long for better, cleaner hearts, more attuned to the heart of God. We pray that we may be more loving, more kind, more just, more faithful.
The ancient prophet Jeremiah prophesied God’s promise that some day we would no longer need external rules and regulations to know what God requires of us. God was going to write his eternal law on our hearts, and we would be God’s people as God is our God. In our troubled time and broken world we devoutly pray for this promised change of heart.
Prayer: Create in us clean hearts, O God, and a new and right spirit within us.