Sermon: Christmas Feria – “Whatever is…”

Dr. Edward Miller was the Dean of the Medical Faculty at the medical school and CEO of the hospital of Johns Hopkins University, and he conducted a study on those who have had heart surgery in order to eliminate various heart conditions related to poor lifestyle choices.

His study stated that there are approximately 2,000,000 bypass and angioplasty surgeries per year in the United States at an approximate cost $120,000 each. Of those, only half of the patients will remain healthy for more than a year. Why? Because 8 out of 9 of them will not change their diet, exercise, etc. that got them into that condition in the first place. What is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

In his conclusion, Dr. Miller writes, “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90 percent of them have not changed their lifestyle. And that’s been studied over and over and over again. And so we’re missing some link in there. Even though they know they have a very bad disease and they know they should change their lifestyle, for whatever reason, they can’t.”

In Holy Scripture, when spoken of, the heart sometimes refers to the physical heart, but more often the heart is actually speaking of the spiritual center, the soul, or even the entire person, and just like our physical heart, our spiritual hearts can become ill – you know this – and in cases like this, we need the healer of our souls to work with in and restore us; however, just like those today who know how to live healthier lives, but choose not to, we also know how to live more righteous lives, but choose not to. Even though we may want to be healed, we continue to hang onto the problem. One of those funny little Facebook blurbs I came across, “You can’t defeat the demons you enjoy playing with.”

So how is it we are to keep our hearts from such spiritual illness?
In our Gospel reading, we heard how the angels spoke to the shepherds and how the shepherds went to see this child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Luke then says, when they arrived, “they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Within our hearts, our souls, we hold many things and we ponder them, but not all of them are holy. Not all of them give life. Many are a form of spiritual illness. They are things we know we should change, but we don’t, and just like physical illnesses of the heart, these spiritual illnesses can do harm to our souls.

The solution. In his final instructions to the Church at Phlippi, Paul writes, “Beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

If you consider your heart, do you see anything that is not true or honorable or excellent or not worthy of praise? If so, set it aside. You will accomplish nothing by dwelling on it, other than harming yourself.

In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon wrote, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Keep your heart, guard your heart, your soul, and when you struggle, when the other seems to be gaining a grip on you, then touch your cross and pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, and focus on Him… instead of you.

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