Refresh is a familiar word that we hear all the time. Googling it brings many results in a few seconds. A well-known mobile phone provider in the UK has a tariff plan called ‘Refresh’. The ad says that it’s a new kind of contract that helps you upgrade and change your old phone. Fizzy drinks ads often say that they are refreshing as they give us new energy and revive our tired spirits. We all spend time to refresh our bodies and our minds. A shower or even a quick splash of cold water on our face wakes us up and refreshes our tired bodies. Listening to music or reading a book can refresh our minds. Treating ourselves to a relaxing holiday refreshes our body and mind.
GOD LOOKS AT OUR HEARTS
But we are more than body and mind. In the depth of our being each one of us has, what the Bible calls ‘the heart’, where we can choose to follow God or to reject him. Jesus said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.” (Luke 6:45) This does not refer to our physical heart but to that part within us where faith dwells. The Bible says that sin also originates from the heart, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness and slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19) The heart is a very special place because “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6) but when we sin or turn away from God our hearts are wounded and we are unable to love as we should. The state of our heart is important as it says in 1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” But how do we refresh our hearts in Christ? We do this by remaining close to the heart of Jesus Christ and his church. To refresh my heart in Christ is to have a Christ-like heart! Let us look at how we can make our hearts more like the heart of Jesus.
A LOVING HEART
There are times when we get angry and wish bad things on other people but ‘stop hating and start loving’ should be the motto of our life. The heart of Jesus is full of love for us. The Bible says “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). So let us live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2) Let us be more loving in all that we do.
A HUMBLE HEART
In the materialistic world of today many people look for power, popularity and possessions to make them feel good. They proudly show off their latest gadgets, knowing that their friends will be jealous. Pride is in fact a thirst for praise and honour. The Bible says “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Let us try to live this verse by following the heart of Jesus. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Humility is putting other people first. Let us always think of others and their needs before we think of ourselves.
A FORGIVING HEART
When we are hurt, our hearts are miles away from being able to forgive. The one who let us down could be our best friend, a close relative or even our parents but remember how much more we gain by forgiving rather than by holding onto our hurts. When we hold on to anger our hearts become bitter and we are punishing ourselves not the person who hurt us. Even in times of agony and suffering, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke: 23:34) When Christ was crucified on the cross, he prayed for those who persecuted him. The greatest thing that he did by dying on the cross was to purchase for us the forgiveness of our sins. Let us forgive others by following his example.
“A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
A CARING HEART
Jesus wants us to have compassion towards others, just as he did. In Mark 1:41, when Jesus saw a leper, he was moved with pity and stretched out his hand to heal him. When he met the widow, weeping because her son had died, he told her to stop crying, touched the coffin and commanded the young man to rise. The dead man sat up and began to speak and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (Luke 7:13) Jesus always noticed the people who needed him. Let us ask the Lord to give us a caring heart to help those around us. Are there people we know who are marginalized or bullied who need a friend to help them?
A TRUTHFUL HEART
Lying is a real problem. It is so easy to lie about not doing your homework, drinking alcohol, where we have been or who we have spent time with. Usually, it is easier to tell a lie than to face up to the fact that you have done something that you shouldn’t. “Everybody else is doing it” is a common lie which can have serious consequences. When we do not tell the truth about little things, then we find that we have to lie more and more to cover up our faults and this creates suspicion and affects our relationships with others. We all sin and fall short but by being honest and open we build up trust and respect in others. Jesus was truthful at all times, even in the most difficult situations, regardless of the cost to himself. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22) Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Let us get into the habit of always speaking the truth.
A SUBMISSIVE HEART
The bible teaches us that Jesus always wanted to do his Father’s will. His only thought, his only wish and his only aim was to do his Father’s will. Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work” (John 4:34). Even at a very young age, Jesus had a clear vision of his purpose here on earth. When Mary and Joseph found the twelve year old Jesus sitting among the teachers in the temple, Mary told Jesus that they had been very worried about him. But he told them that he was doing his Father’s business (Luke 2:49). Also Luke 22:42 says that even during Christ’s agony in the Garden of Olives when he knew that he was about to die on the cross, he only wanted his Father’s will to be done. Let us try to be more submissive to the will of God by devoting ourselves to more prayer and Bible reading.
A GRATEFUL HEART
Most of us have a tendency to take things for granted! Let us remember that even the basic necessities that we enjoy are a luxury to many people in other parts of the world. Having a grateful heart is one of the best cures for complaining. Jesus openly expressed his gratitude to God, so that others would trust in the Lord. When Jesus prayed that Lazarus would be raised to life in John 11:41, it says that Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.” He also thanked God for both physical and spiritual food. While eating the Passover meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread and gave thanks to God for it (Luke 22:19). He then broke the bread and gave it to each of the disciples. Jesus also said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” (Matthew 11:25). We too can inspire others to have faith in Jesus by being thankful to God for all the blessings that he has given us.
A PRAYERFUL HEART
The most common excuse for not praying is the lack of time in our busy lives. Most of us complain that we are bombarded with homework and other projects. Some even say that prayer is boring! But prayer works miracles! A simple form of prayer is talking to Jesus, just like you are talking to your best friend and listening to him by reading the bible. Jesus called us friends in John 15:15. Even during his busy schedule, Jesus found time to pray. Mark 1:35 says “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Today let us take the decision to talk to Jesus, our best friend each day.
MAKE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
We can renew our hearts this advent by going to Confession and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We can go to Mass and receive Holy Communion more often. We should find more time for personal prayer and for reading the Bible. Let us ask for the help of the Holy Spirit as we pray with Saint Augustine of Hippo, “Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there your cheerful beams.” This season of Christmas, let us pour out our hearts to God, praying as King David did in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” In the Beatitudes it says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. Let us pray that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) This Christmas, let heaven rejoice over our repentant and changed hearts! This Christmas, let us give Jesus, the best possible gift, which is our own pure and refreshed heart!
Written by Mili Rengi