Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

A servant of God has a big heart. That sounds trite and fluffy; it’s neither.

A local radio personality characterizes folks who appreciate many different kinds of music as people with big ears. That’s the sense in which big hearts characterize people who work with God.

We all have hearts for those close to us, for the people we need. Crime films have a stock character of the brutal hit man who dotes on his wife and kids. The role plays on our awareness that we can limit our world of concern to a realm that is astoundingly self-centered. It’s a struggle to widen our love to the point where we value others for themselves, not for what they do for us. Most of us realize only moderate success.

Still, we’re capable of expanding our hearts to encompass many more people than we assume. The issue isn’t how far our hearts can expand; it’s whether we have the courage of faith to acknowledge the depths of others’ needs.

Enlarging our hearts presents with real dangers: we’ll experience the pain of all whose lives we pay attention to, we’ll experience the finite resources we possess to meet the needs that underlie their pain; finally, we’ll face the decision whether to do all we can to meet those needs or to turn our backs on those we’ve come to value. Who knows where such a decision will lead!

Every time we pick up a newspaper, every time we watch the evening news, every time we wander around our town or any other with our eyes open, life – the God of life – invites us to grow a big heart. We’ve been given the spiritual DNA. It’s not a question of human nature; it’s a question of human nurture. A healthy church nurtures big hearts.