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Father Muench Says...

Healing for the broken-hearted among us

Feb. 14, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

There are many times when I look over the Scripture readings for a Sunday liturgy as I prepare my homily and a word seems to jump right out at me. This happened recently on that Sunday, the responsorial psalm response was: “Praise the Lord, who heals the broken hearted.”

So, I focused on a “broken heart” as a part of my homily.

I guess that the first thing most people think of in this regard is a broken love.  It reminds me of a big, strong hockey player I met way back when I was on the college campus.  There in my office he was in tears. His girlfriend had dumped him and he was broken hearted.

However, there are many other experiences that bring on a broken heart.  Personally, I can think of times when someone in my family, someone close to me was suffering or in a crisis or died.  As I realized all that they were going through it truly broke my heart.  I tried to offer my compassion but, for me, the experience was heart breaking.

I have stood with a young couple at the death bed of their young child.  There is no other word to describe what they were going through – it was heart breaking.

I am certain you can tell me similar stories.  I know that you all know what we mean by that expression, heart breaking.  You have certainly experienced a broken heart yourself.

You also know that every time you remember that person or that particular situation, you again experience a heart break.  They just don’t go away. 

So, how does Jesus “heal the broken hearted?”  Jesus comes in compassion and support in that moment.  Jesus wants to be with us as a source of life in when all seems lost in a broken heart.  Jesus wants to bring peace and love. Jesus wants to help us carry on, doing all that life asks of us despite the broken heart.

I want to add one more thing today – about Lent.  Lent is the perfect time – through the prayer and mortification of– for me to find Jesus, to allow Jesus to heal my broken hearts of life, of my life.

I am thinking of so many. There are the many broken hearts because of my sins, there are the many broken hearts because of the times I have failed, times when I wanted to do so many things and failed to carry through on them. They were heart breaking moments in my life.  There were so many more things I could have accomplished but simply failed.

I want to add here a suggestion as you begin the time of Lent.  I would like to suggest that you offer your prayers and your mortification as an intercession for someone who know needs your prayers.

I am thinking that this may well be someone you know who is suffering with a broken heart.  Personally, I am thinking of someone I know who is suffering as he tries to support a son who is battling cancer, trying to help him and his family, while he himself is suffering with a broken heart.

Intercession is an important part of our Catholic faith.  Our prayers matter. They make a difference. God stands with us as we stand with a friend in need.

Having such an important purpose for Lent – something beyond our own selves – changes the whole Lenten Program for us, gives us a solid purpose for Lent.

I want to finish with a prayer of Pope Francis: “Lent is a good time to recover the joy and hope that make us feel like beloved sons and daughters of the Father.  The Father who waits for us in order to cast off our garments of exhaustion, of apathy, of mistrust, and so clothe us with the dignity which only a true father or mother knows how to give their children, with the garments born of tenderness and love.”

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