In today’s reading from Jeremiah, the prophet speaks of a time when God will “write my law upon your hearts”. I love this image. A writer writes his words carefully, knowing that once they have left his pen, they are forever outside of him. God promises to write his word on our hearts. What was once only his, is now ours as well. The word of God is written on our hearts. Of all places, our hearts. We can’t live without our hearts. He has written his love, his life on a place that we can never separate from. It’s as if the painter has chosen to make his first stroke at the very middle of the canvas, staking his claim that the painting will not be able to hide from him.
When I read these words, my heart warms with the knowledge that the God of all, started his great canvas at the center of my being. My heart warms with the knowledge that all that is great with the God of all, is so small and personal, to be written on my heart.
In the lesson, we learn that God is telling the people that they will no longer be judged for their outward sins. He tells them that what he really wants from them is a personal relationship. He is telling them that he is no where; if not in their inner beings. Their struggles, our struggles, their sacrifices over centuries, to atone and try to please a god of punishment, our relentless belief that we will never please God, these beliefs are being set aside. The law which was written on a stone tablet, hard, heavy and cold is no longer outside of us. It is in us, it is us. God has written his law on our very hearts.
The poor widow knows this. She pleads with the judge, who is outwardly callous and cold towards her. Every day widows and others who have no other recourse but to plead with the powers that be, know that if they persevere they will find God written in the hearts of these cold and callous powers. The judge in this story must be badgered until he remembers that God’s love has been written on his heart, an he can’t escape his heart. Not that I think he has a beautiful awakening moment, he may even hate the fact that love is written permanently on his heart. I’m sure it interferes with well laid plans to execute power and to be the master of his destiny. You can hear him saying “I don’t believe all this caring nonsense, but I’ll listen to her if it will shut her up”. So he listens to her, and I believe the widow knew all along that he would. I like to imagine that she shrewdly watched the judge’s attitude change from one of absolute belief in the power of his own destiny, to the realization that he is fighting against his own best nature.
This is what the great leaders of justice knew as well. Gandhi, King realized that at the core of brutal oppression, are souls that must reconcile to what they know in their hearts. It is only a matter of time until the most brutal dictator recognizes that he has God’s code written in his own heart. Pilate’s wife saw it in a dream when she advised her husband not to have any part of this man Jesus. I imagine the leaders of South Africa and the British occupation in India saw it at some point. Even today in America, those in power know that the tide of racial oppression has run dry and we are left with the only true reality that systematic racial oppression is all of its forms is wrong. It is written on the hearts of everyone and has no filter for power, prestige and position.
So whether you are like the poor widow, or the callous judge, you have great reason to rejoice. God has chosen to write his very word on our heart; there is no escaping; we are enveloped by his love; his wisdom courses through our veins, always reminding us that we are not alone; we are saved, blessed and forgiven.