A Cold HeartChristians should be on fire with God’s love, filled with the charity that overflows with deeds of kindness that confer joy and peace. The fire of God’s love should move us to reach out to others in their need and to share with them the Good News and everything else good we have received from God. Yet our Lord warns us: “Because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). We don’t want to be among those whose love has grown cold. As Pope Francis says:
«In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool? More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments. All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbor who does not live up to our expectations. Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death. Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal» (Message for Lent 2018).The Pope points out many things that can cause our love to grow cold: love for money and greed, which turn money, possessions, and pleasures into our god, whereby we reject and replace God with an idol of our own creation. The god of greed cannot give us the happiness and peace for which we long, but causes us to lay into others with violence in order to force them into serving the god of selfishness. Euthanasia and abortion, xenophobia and racism often arise from “the root of all evil”—the god of greed. Chosen isolation can also cause our hearts to grow cold. How many people go into their room and close the door to escape from opportunities to love and serve others? They escape into music, TV, computer games, news sites, or social media, which is often really unsocial. Some find pornography and masturbation their ultimate “relief,” which conveys the message: “God I don’t need you to be happy… by doing this I can make myself happy. I don’t need another person to be happy… I can do it myself.” Certainly this act of isolation gives rise to loneliness, self-absorption, and sterile pessimism. Lent can be a great opportunity to get out of ourselves and to embrace the fire of God’s love. This fire, though, must radiate outwards in deeds of love and service toward others. So, take advantage of this time of Lent to do something in service of the poor, the elderly, or the needy in any way.
Fr. John R. Waiss
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