Between knowledge, which issues from the mind and mercy, which issues from the heart, the latter takes priority. This is so because while the Bible affirms that God knows everything, and JESUS tells us that “He is the truth and the way”, God is not defined as knowledge, but as Love. In 1John 4:8 we are told that God is love, and who ever does not love does not know God because God is love.
Even in the Gospel of John where Jesus is referred to as “Word”, logos, which has a meaning of knowledge or wisdom, this logos, this word behaves in a loving way by becoming flesh so that “to those who believe in his name, (not those who know his name) he might give the right to become children of God”. We become God’s children not by knowledge but by believing. We do not have a feast for the sacred mind of Jesus, but have a feast for the sacred heart of Jesus. Why does God prefer to be defined more as love than knowledge, why does God prefer to be known as having a heart than the mind?
Heart is something that is common to all of us, whereas knowledge is something that we possess at varying levels. Children have less knowledge than adults and highly educated people have more knowledge than the less educated. And so when knowledge becomes the measure for valuing people, we can end respecting and having an exaggerated sense of awe for those who are knowledgeable, while we disregard and wipe the floor with those who have less knowledge. God chose to have a heart so that he can identify with all, the young the old, the poor the rich, the intelligent the simple and so that he can present and accessible to all.
So having a heart is the basis for respect for each and every person regardless of his or her status. Operating from the heart therefore forms the basis for good relationships with others, while operating only from the mind easily lead to bad relationship because people are valued according to their knowledge, and not according to the fact that they are human made in the image of God
The other value for operating from the heart is that the heart moves one to do something. It is the heart that makes the world to go round and not the facts and knowledge. We know the facts that contribute to the problems of the world; we research, analyze and produce good presentations on how to change the situation of misery in the world. We do not lack knowledge of why things are going wrong, nor are we short of insights on how problems can be solved, yet problems and suffering continue in spite of knowing about them. It is the heart that can move us to do something and to change things. One may know for example that there is a child who is not able to go schools because her parents cannot afford, but it is the heart that will move one to do something about it. One may know that there is an old person who stays alone left by his children, it is the heart that will move one to do something. For this reason Pope Francis is calling the church, he is calling the world to have a heart, because only when we have a heart can we change the misery of the world, because the heart propels us to action, so let us have a heart. The shepherd that we heard about in today’s Gospel who took a risk of leaving the 99 sheep and go to look for 1 sheep operated from the heart. Had he been operating from knowledge, knowledge would have told him that it make no sense to risk lives of 99 sheep and go and look for one stupid sheep.
The heart is also the foundation of relationship. We remember mostly those people who reach out to us from the heart than those who told us about facts and knowledge. The people that we remember and who make a lasting impression on us are not those we found to be brilliant but those who also had a heart and acted towards us from the heart. We remember with affection those people who spent time with us when we needed company; those who made us feel that we matter, those who listened to our existential pains, those who were present to us, so let us have a heart.
We should have a heart because we are made in the image of a God who has a heart; that is the message of today’s feast. If Jesus has a heart that led him to sacrificial love for us, so are we too called to have a heart that will lead us to relate with others in a caring, respectful and sacrificial way, otherwise this feast has no meaning?
Yet in your contest of work here, where work needs to be done, it does not mean that you should spend your time here being nice to each other at the expense of work. But what it means is that you should be human, you should have a heart even as you are calling each other to responsibility and truth. Having a heart without the truth leads to sentimentalism, where we exist only to make people feel happy and the objectives of the institution are not achieved. On the other hand having truth without a heart leads to cruelty and callousness where we do not care about the pain of other people, as long as we think that we are doing our job.
In our Diocese of Mthatha, our motto is “To care and to work”. With this motto we seek to balance taking care of people in their personal and human needs, without at the same compromising the work for which we are here. It is by having a heart and being human that we can maintain this balance because having a heart does not mean that you let people do what they want, or you allow them to renege in their job. But the way you call them to responsibility should be respectful and human.
So in the light of today’s feast what message can we propose? Let us among ourselves, equally from the first to the last person have a heart to heart relationship characterized by care, respect, sacrifice and mutually enriching relationship with no concern about status and education. We are all brothers and sisters here from the president to the person who is making tea for us. No one is important and above others because he or she is perceived to be doing an educated job. We are equal but perform different roles according to our capacities and gifts.
Secondly, for the good of the work that has brought us together here, let us support each other, and where there are neglects and negligence, let us correct each other in a human way and with a heart, as a parent would to her child and as sibling would do to here brother or sister. In correcting each other, you cannot always win, because even when you have acted in a human way, some people will still accuse you of being inhuman. But if in your conscience you know that you have done your best to have a heart and to be human in the way you approach the point of concern, then you can be at peace because in addition to caring there is work to be done here. We cannot just be here to be cozy to each to each other at the neglect of the reason for us to be here, but as we correct and encourage each other we must be human and have a heart. So after we have corrected, we must be at peace but only after we have answered this question: “have I been human and did I have a heart in correcting?”
Some of you may have seen edition of Worldwide magazine, at the back of which there is a poster with a caption “REMAIN HUMAN”, perhaps you may want to paste it somewhere so as to remind yourself to have a heart and to be human as you relate with and work with others.