During a walk in my neighborhood I stopped to watch some baby birds, Killdeer, running to and fro under the watchful eye of their mother. Their tiny legs moved so fast it was comical, but observing them provided an opportunity to reflect upon the gift of life and the spiritual gift of wonder and awe, gifts which could have been easily missed. Much of the wonder of life passes us by for many reasons, although sometimes it is because we forget to look. Sadly, this also can hold true for the amazing parts of our faith. Thus, the Church in her wisdom provides us with special feast days to remind us of the wonder of what God has done so that our hearts might be expanded and our faith assisted. One such feast day is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, followed the next Friday by another, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It should not surprise us that these two are celebrated within the same week since the Sacred Heart beat within the Body of Jesus, and from it, His Blood flowed. The Eucharist is inextricably united with the Heart of Jesus; that is, His Body and Blood was a gift given from the depths of Love which flowed from His Heart.
On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi we were reminded of the everlasting gift of Jesus’ own Body and Blood, physical food made spiritual, which literally brings Jesus into our own heart and soul as we also enter into His. The wonder of the entire Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus coming in a small piece of bread (and a cup of wine)* is beyond our comprehension, and yet it is so: every time we partake of the Eucharist we are receiving the gift of eternal life offered in the mystery which is alive within the consecrated bread and wine. (John 6:54) While it is beyond understanding, it should not surprise us that God can do this any more than it should surprise us that the Lord of All Creation could come to us in the form of a tiny baby born in a stable. As Mary was told by the angel at the Annunciation, nothing is impossible for God. Therefore, the celebration of Corpus Christi connects with the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a gift of our shared humanity offered through a Divine gift. Though also God, Jesus understands from experience what it is to be human and how difficult love can be for us because of our human limitations. Like us, His Heart knew the joy of loving family and friends, as well as the pain of being broken with sorrow. Therefore, in celebrating His Sacred Heart which expands infinitely in unfathomable love, we are celebrating everything about Jesus that is of love, mercy, compassion, and goodness directed toward us.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a continued outpouring of the love God has given from the first moment of creation. Only a God who loves His people infinitely could have responded to a people so prone to sin by sending His Son into the world to redeem us by shedding His own blood. Jesus’ Heart is consistent with the Love that is at the heart of His Father, but it is also entwined with the heart of His mother. Therefore, it also makes sense that we celebrate the Immaculate Heart of Mary the day after the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The flesh and blood of Jesus were one with hers: Jesus was "the fruit of her womb," and therefore intimately connected to her own body and blood. No more beautiful, Immaculate Heart ever beat within anyone than that of Mary. As a result of Mary’s virginal motherhood Jesus’ Sacred Heart and hers were wrapped together in the love of the Father through the working of the Holy Spirit. Meditating on the beauty contained in the realities in these feasts is indeed a cause for wonder and awe, especially because Mary and Jesus offer themselves to us always.
Therefore, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary call us to the best of our humanity by immersing us in theirs. Through His Body and Blood, and consequently through His Sacred Heart, Jesus calls us to share intimately in the Divine life He shares with the Father and the Spirit, that we might become more holy in order to bear hurts with dignity, seek His grace to forgive, open ourselves to those in need through compassionate works of mercy, and to invite God within so that our heart might become more like His. As we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary we can take more time to notice the presence of God’s love, pondering in our hearts the miracles of each day. Perhaps as we become more intentional in looking for the signs of His presence we can learn to joyfully savor the small miracles of life, developing eyes and ears to see and hear better, particularly when we approach God in our prayer. We can rejoice in the Immaculate Heart of Mary whose example of selfless love is indeed a wonder, especially because she shares that love not just with her Son, but also with us. If we rely on these wondrous hearts, seeking and finding refuge there, we can persevere through the challenges of our lives until the day when we will enjoy the banquet in the Kingdom of God forever.
May we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary daily with the wonder and awe such Love can awaken within us! May we take the time to open our eyes to little miracles and be moved to joy and gratitude! And may we put the Gospel message of love into practice that we might grow in holiness while bringing others to Jesus! Let us meet in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
For more on the killdeer you can click here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/media-browser/483312
or here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killdeer
* Note that when one receives the consecrated Bread, one is receiving the fullness of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The consecrated Wine also contains the fullness of Christ in this way. One might ask why we need both, then. The answer is that (ordinarily) both are given since Jesus gave us both 'species' (that is, forms) of His Body and Blood, saying "Do this in memory of me." However, due to an abundance of caution, (other than the priest who is acting 'in persona Christi'), we are only receiving the Eucharistic Bread at present.
1. My photo, a killdeer in my yard.
2. Painting, Chalice and Host by Jan Davidsz de Heem.
3. Icon, Bogolubskaya Icon of the Mother of God by Fr. William Hart McNichols. Even though the hearts of Jesus and Mary are not 'featured' here I liked that the scroll says, "I choose the little ones and the weak." Those who love purely see the beauty in the little ones, as Jesus taught and Mary continues with her intercession for us. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this icon in one of many mediums, go to https://fineartamerica.com/featured/bogolubskaya-icon-of-the-mother-of-god-151-william-hart-mcnichols.html
4. Stained glass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
5. Painting, Bluebell Wood by Nicholas Hely Hutchinson.
Note: In compliance with GDPR rules, I wish to make it clear that I do not gather any information on any of my readers at any time.
Heart Speaks to Heart