John 19:31-37, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
My dear friends, our readings remind us of the heart of God and his love for every single man, woman and child. He is the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to find one lost sheep. The church today, and throughout this month of June, invites us to spend the month reflecting on what it really means to live our lives in such a way that we reveal the loving heart of a merciful God to the whole world. Before the beginning of time, before creation, God existed all alone. The love of God was the only love there was then. The love of God is the only love there is now. And the love of God is the only love there will ever be.
We are not creators. We are only receivers and transmitters of the love of God. And we can transmit only as much as we receive. Jesus is the greatest expression of the love of God for us. He is also the greatest expression of the human response to that love. Jesus was divine, the Son of God. He was also human, the son of Mary. He spoke with divine authority but he spoke in human language. He spoke in the simple language of ordinary people of his day about the things they were most familiar with: the birds of the air, the lilies of the fields, the sower and the seed, the vine and the branches.
When he wanted to tell his apostles how important they were, he said that they were the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” And when he wanted to tell us of God’s love for us, he used the heart, the human symbol of love. He told us that we should learn of him, that he was humble and meek of heart. Jesus’ contemporaries knew of his meek and humble of heart and they knew that it beat with unconditional love for them. Rough, simple fishermen left their boats and nets to follow him. Learned doctors sat at his feet to hear his wisdom. A tax collector left his money table to become his disciple. Multitudes followed him for days, so captivated that they forgot to bring food to eat. The sick fought their way through the crowds just to touch the hem of his garment. And they all found peace and rest for their souls.
Theologians say that it is necessary to capture the unconditional love of the transcendent God in a symbol that is relevant for us. Jesus has already done this for us with his Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the symbol of fidelity of the love of God. It reminds us that God loves us unconditionally with a love that we cannot earn or ever be worthy of. And he loves us for ourselves, not as we should be, or possibly could be, but as we are with all of the physical warts, psychological quirks and spiritual infidelities. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is most relevant today because not only is this the age of information, but also the age of anxiety, fear, insecurity and despair.
The church today invites us to spend the month of June reflecting on what it really means to live our lives in such a way that we reveal the loving heart of a merciful God to the whole world. The Feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us of our mission to know and love God, and to experience God’s love for us, even in a culture which seems to have forgotten God, . For evangelization today, the heart of Christ must be recognized as the heart of the Church. It is he who calls us to conversion, to reconciliation. It is he who leads pure hearts and those hungering for justice along the way of the Beatitudes. It is He who achieves the warm communion of the members of the one body. It is he who enables us to adhere to the good news and to accept the promise of eternal life. It is he who sends us out on mission. My dear friends, let us spend the month of June in prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, lifting up our nation, indeed the whole world, to the one in whom we place all of our trust. He will not disappoint us. “Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place our trust in you.”
God bless you.