The Heart in the Gospels

In all four of the gospels – but especially in Luke – the organ of the heart plays an essential, if not central role. The humanistic points of view, or rather the presuppositions of the corresponding gospel passages, are multilayered and distinctly differentiated in themselves; an overview of the totality – and an intensive effort for each individual heart-word – leads further and opens great, astonishing horizons.

According to all the Gospels, the heart is an organ of compassion, of soulful participation in the events of the world, and of one’s own, emotion-centered involvement with them. Thus, the grieving widow of Nain, whose only son had (apparently) deceased, was close to the Christ Jesus, «to his heart» («When the Lord saw her, her misfortune went to his heart, and he said to her, Do not weep!» [Quam cum vidisset Dominus, misericordia motus super ea dixit illi: Noli flere!] Luke 7:139). Mourning, on the other hand, filled the disciples’ hearts with the realization of Christ’s imminent death (John 16:6) – a sorrow of heart that, according to the words of Christ in the farewell discourses, was to give way to an inner joy of the same organ following the resurrection and second coming («But I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one can take from you.» [Iterum autem videbo vos, et gaudebit cor vestrum, et gaudium vestrum nemo tollit a vobis.] John 16:22).

In a few places in the Gospels, there is talk of a «hardness» of heart, or a «hardness in the heart» (duritia cordis), where Christ Jesus made known people’s lack of empathy, and their lack of compassion for those who are suffering and on the sidelines – for example, the sick man with the «withered hand», whose imminent healing by Christ was observed suspiciously and inwardly apathetically by those present in the synagogue.

From: Peter Selg, «Mysterium Cordis – von der Mysterienstätte des Menschenherzen» [Mysterium Cordis – from the Mystery Place of the Human Heart]. Dornach 2003, p. 20.

Translation Monika Werner
Image Sofia Lismont

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