The Heart is a Slave’s Quarters

(For the audio version of this blog, please visit:

Sunday’s reading from Job is a real downer (Jb 7:1-4, 6-7). He speaks of drudgery and restlessness. He seems to have lost hope in the God he thought was his friend. Paul, too, writes to us of God’s word—slavishly, though. (1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23) He seems desperate to make a home for God’s spirit in as many of us as possible. Even Jesus, in Sunday’s gospel reading, seems like a one-armed paper hanger, trying to keep up with the relentless pace of saving souls before his earthly mission ends. “Everyone is looking for you,” his disciples tell him as he tries to find some rest before continuing.

“Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also,” Jesus responds. “For this purpose have I come.” (Mk 1:29-39)

He inflamed the hearts of many adherents to God’s first covenant when he said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19). Mark’s gospel tells us people used this teaching of his against him, setting in motion the fulfillment of the second covenant—Christ’s death, resurrection and spirit-sending.

“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.” (Mark 14:58)

Of course we all now know Jesus was talking about the temple of his body, and his mission taught us we are ALL called to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

The prophet Jeremiah foresaw the second covenant long before Jesus arrived for its fulfillment. But in many ways he was as much God’s slave as Job, Paul and Jesus are in Sunday’s readings. In bringing freedom to others, Jeremiah felt isolated: (Jeremiah 15: 16-18)

When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, because I bear your name, LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit celebrating in the circle of merrymakers. Under the weight of your hand I sat alone because you filled me with rage. Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?

Although his account ends with the dismantling of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the physical infrastructure that housed the printed word of God, Jeremiah was inspired to add to God’s words:

“See, days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. … I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will no longer teach their friends and relatives, “Know the LORD!” Everyone, from least to greatest, shall know me for I will forgive their iniquity and no longer remember their sin.” (Jeremiah 31:31).

God’s incarnate love hit home with my family last year—in my wife’s childhood home.

We were selling the house my wife’s parents lived in for almost a half century. With their passing, it had been empty of spirit for the last few years. We sifted through the earthly goods they both held dear, and once their home was completely empty, it was a house—ready for sale to a family to make it a home again.

We took our nephew, who hadn’t spent much time in it since his childhood, to have a last look. We invited him to take a memento from among the items we saved before this place was no longer ours. He said no, the legacy of his grandparents is written on his heart.

As the Easter season approaches, Jeremiah’s prophecy, and the legacy of the glorious slaveries of Job, Paul and Jesus, can all live on in the hearts of anyone willing to give a home to the Holy Spirit Christ died to send us.

–Tom Andel


  1. Being a temple of the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest mysteries of our existence. The same Holy Spirit in union with God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ himself is nearly incomprehensible.

    The Holy Sprit of the Blessed Trinity is in us, you and me!

    Wrap your head around that if you can. What does that mean to you?
    How can this knowledge change your life?

    • There’s great wisdom in the advice, “Go with the flow.” Water is symbolic of the life God gives us. Its meaning is inherent in baptism. As we get older, we make trouble for ourselves when we resist God’s simplicity and try adding to it. As the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “All else is vanity,” and “a chase after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). The Holy Spirit is the wisdom, knowledge and joy that comes from living the life God gave us–and WHAT God gave us is to be shared with WHOM God gave us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *