Behold the Heart that love man
Last week we celebrated the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, a gift crowning all the gifts of the love of Jesus for man and in which Jesus remains with us forever. Today the Church invites us to give direct consideration to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source and cause of all His Gifts.
“Behold this heart which has so loved man.” This word of Jesus was given to Sister Margaret Alacoque. She was born on July 22, 1647 in France. In 1671 she entered the Visitation convent and was professed the next year. From the time she was twenty, she experienced visions of Christ, and on December 27, 1673, she began [to receive] a series of revelations that were to continue over the next year and a half. In them Christ informed her that she was His chosen instrument to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart, instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be established.
The church shows us that it is truly in the Heart of Christ wounded by our sins that God has given us the infinite treasures of His love. “The thoughts of His Heart” –the heart of Jesus– chants the Introit of the Mass are to all generations to deliver them from death, to feed them in time of famine by his love. Thus the heart of Jesus is always in search of souls to save, to free from the snares of sins to wash in His blood, to feed with his body. This heart of Jesus is always living in the Eucharist to satisfy the hunger of all who long for Him, to welcome and console all those who, frustrated by the challenges of life, take refuge in Him, seeking peace and refreshment. With the Eucharist and with His sacred Heart, Jesus himself becomes our support on the hard road of our life.
Today’s Gospel shows us His Heart pierced with a lance. St. John says it was “Opened to show us that thereby the door of life was made open through which the sacraments of the Church flow forth. From the pierced heart of Christ, symbol of the love which immolated Him on the cross for us, came forth the sacraments, represented by the water and the blood flowing from the wound and it is through these sacraments that we receive the life of grace. St. Paul, in this beautiful Epistle, urges us to penetrate more into the Heart of Jesus to contemplate His unsearchable riches and to enter into the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God. This is the mystery of the infinite, divine love which has gone before us from all eternity and was revealed to us by the Word made flesh. The church offers the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in order to inspire our love.
Today’s Vespers antiphon says. “With an everlasting love, God hath loved us; therefore, lifted up from the earth, He hath drawn us in pity to His Heart” And it says also. “Son, give Me thy heart.” This is the essence of true devotion to the Sacred Heart, to return love for love, to repay love with love. We cannot possibly understand the mystery, by which the Son of God became man, died on the Cross , and then became their Food, if we do not admit this infinite love which compelled God to give Himself entirely for the salvation of His Creatures. The mystery of God’s love is too high and too deep for His creatures to fully understand it. The attitude we take in our spiritual life depends greatly upon the idea we have of God and of His love. If we have a poor, impoverished image of God, like the mean master who is zealous of the happiness of his subjects, instead of being impelled to love Him and to give ourselves generously to His service, we shall be cold, indolent, calculating and wasting the talent we have received from the Master. The gifts of God do not disappear when we use them. But once we begin to understand that God is charity and if only we begin to penetrate even slightly the mystery of His infinite love, then everything can change, because love calls love. The soul who wishes to sound the depths of the mysteries of Jesus Christ and to understand something of His infinite love will find no better way than to enter within His Heart or to hide itself in the breast of its beloved. Let us take refuge then in the heart of Jesus and contemplate His mysteries and His love. But seek there too, a shelter for our interior life. This is a place of retreat which is always at our disposal and we can retire there even in the midst of occupation and duties. When rumors, curiosity, gossip, and the vanities of the world threaten to overwhelm us, let us quickly retire by a swift interior movement to the Heart of Jesus.
In every temptation, we must fly to the heart of Jesus. The heart of Jesus is our surest refuge, if we wish to escape Satan’s snares and our own evil tendencies, we must take shelter in the heart of Him who conquered Satan. We must have unshaken confidence in this meek Heart in spite of all our faults and daily infidelities. “Cast all your faults into the abyss of His charity with great confidence and you will immediately be free of them.” With such confidence, we too, must seek the Heart of Jesus as a sure refuge in all our falls. We will often commit some fault through weakness or surprise in spite of all our good will. Let us then humble ourselves and acknowledge our weakness with humility. But we must not let the experiences of our fall separate us from the heart of Jesus. We should return to Him like the prodigal son to his father and ask His pardon while kissing His sacred wounds and renew our resolution to take up our abode in His heart, so full of goodness and mercy.
By Canon Raphael Ueda, ICRSS