A Self-giving Heart – Vids Gornez, SJ

Matthew 11:25-30, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Let me begin my reflection by sharing with you the reflection of Pope Benedict XVI on The Heart of God, in the book Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI.
And it reads: The Old Testament speaks of God’s heart twenty-six times. It is regarded as the organ of his will, against which man is measured… It is the Logos which is at the center of us all—without our knowing—for the center of man is the heart, and in the heart there is the guiding energy of the whole, which is the Logos. It is the Logos which enables us to be logical, to correspond to the Logos; he is the image of God after which we are created… It is here, in the heart, that the birth of the divine Logos in man takes place; that man is united with the personal, incarnate Word of God… The heart is the locus of the encounter with the Logos… The pierced heart of Jesus… is not concerned with self-preservation but with self-surrender. It saves the world by opening itself… The heart saves, indeed, but it saves by giving itself away. Thus, in the heart of Jesus, the center of Christianity is set before us… This Heart calls to our heart. It invites us to step forth out of the futile attempt of self-preservation and, by joining in the task of love, by handing ourselves over to him and with him, to discover the fullness of love which alone is eternity and which alone sustains the world.

There are several points that we can draw from the reflection. First: That the heart is the center of the human person. It is from this center where the decisions and actions of man are directed. That interior center is exteriorized, as it were, by the visible actions of the person. That interior center therefore, the true identity of the person is revealed by the actions and decisions one makes as person. Second. That the heart is the place of encounter with the Logos. The Logos, which is the image of God, forms the human heart to correspond to it. It gives the heart understanding and reason. Such that the human heart closely conformed to the Logos which is the heart of God reflects God to the world, and makes God visible to the world. Indeed, the human person is the image of God. Third. That the perfect human heart is the heart of Jesus, conformed absolutely to the heart of God, the Father in heaven. Jesus is the divine Logos, Jesus the divine heart. Jesus as a human person like us, expresses everything that the heart of God is. Jesus the Son of God made man is the perfect human person. Fourth. That this heart of Jesus calls to our heart, calling us to have a heart like his heart. This heart is fully revealed in its being pierced, it is a heart revealed as not being concerned with self-preservation but concerned with giving itself away. For this is how the world is saved, by the heart of Jesus being pierced, by his heart and his life given away to those whom he loves that they may have life. This we call perfect love, the the fullest action of the heart. Did not our Lord Jesus tell his disciples during the Last Supper: There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends?

On the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are asked to step forth out of our own need for self-preservation. Jesus invites us to join in his task of saving the world. And salvation happens only from acts of love, love that comes from a heart disposed to giving itself away rather than preserving itself, just like the loving heart of Jesus.

Last night, as I was going through the posts in my Facebook account, I chanced upon a short video clip of a man, with a note written on a piece of dirty cardboard asking for alms: konting tulong lang po para sa pagkain. Apparently, he had defied the lockdown in Manila having walked from Caloocan to Quezon City. His frail body was badly emaciated, visibly hungry; he could be a potential carrier of the virus. But a kind soul, a mother in her early 40’s, could not bear not helping the needy man. She approached him, brought him food, engaged in a lengthy conversation with him asking where he was from, how his family was. Being a close friend of that mother, I felt it was reckless of her, risking her own health and the health of a younger sister and a 6 year-old daughter. But her deepest impulse was to love, to do good, to give of her self, for this was not the first time for such a selfless act but a constant pattern of her response to the poor in need. The poor neighborhood where she frequents even thought she was a religious. I felt a stinging tug of shame in my heart because I, a religious, was not even sure if I could do the same. But I would not know now what self-giving is if what she was doing was not one.

Perhaps, we can examine our own hearts on this feast of the Heart of hearts: do we have a heart forgetful of self, a heart that moves the hand to give, that moves the will to do good to others, in a word, a heart that loves; rather than a heart absorbed in the thought of goods directed to the self, the thought of receiving more than letting go, or the pleasurable thought of self-comfort or self-preservation so disproportionate to the thought of easing the burdens of others, in a word, a heart absorbed in self-love?

Jesus invites us today: Come to me, learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. A heart that is meek and humble directs the person to step out of his own self in order to open himself to others and share the burden of his fellow human being’s yoke. This is love that saves, love that sustains life. AMEN.

*image from the Internet

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