‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.’ ‘Whoso mocketh the poor preproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at the calamities shall not be unpunished.’ And the ‘beats’ of a morally healthy heart continue in Proverbs. It is very easy to overlook the significance of the wise-sayings of Proverbs and read them as mere ‘pious sayings’. On the contrary, this text tells something vital of the Kingdom of God. Namely, how it is already fully present among us. Most importantly, how this Rule of God makes an immediate claim on us.
The Earth needs just rulers. However, ‘good government’ starts via our individual efforts to rule our heart and live justly. ‘An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him….Whosoever rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.’ There is more to it than reading a catalogue of virtues. There is a wider picture which one should grasp. The human heart, thus transformed against its innate egoism, belongs to the Kingdom of God! The central message of the passage is that the heart is the cell and building block of God’s full reign in Heaven and Earth. Our ‘heartbeats’, marked by grace, are the proofs that this is a full reign here on Earth!
Luke’s gospel focuses on this ‘present value’ of the human heart. The stake is that our heart is an icon of, a pointer to, God’s Kingdom. The person is an ‘open Embassy’ of this Kingdom. That is why there is an urge to take the present state of our hearts seriously. ‘I tell you…: but except you repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’
That is why Jesus asks us to ‘discern this time’. ‘This time’ belongs to God. Our judgements should be in the service of God’s just Kingdom. This ‘thinking and discerning presence’ in History is the ground of all forms of living together. Can we hear the biblical question of the guardian Angel of this age, addressed to us? What happens when ‘democracy is heart-less’?
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..