In this month of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus it is appropriate to focus our meditation on what it means to love and be loved by God. In the last few weeks there have been many beautiful, mystery-filled feasts such as Pentecost, the Feast of the Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi. In each of these feasts we celebrate the fullness of the gifts God has given us in sending the Spirit to empower us, but also we celebrate who God is as Father, Son, and Spirit. God is gracious and the giver of all good gifts; God is a Trinity of Persons, as St. Augustine puts it, who is an eternal exchange of love which is extended to us. We are included in the very love of God which is who He is! And this love is given to us every day in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ which is the source and summit of the sacraments and the source and summit of all loves.
So what's with all this love? Why do we even need a Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus when it seems obvious that God loves us anyhow? First of all, love is who God is, therefore it is important for us to realize that we can never celebrate this enough. It is mysterious because it is a greater love than we can ever imagine. We should not spend time trying to understand it; trying to understand why or how He could ever love us so much simply will get us nowhere because it is too far above us to know the nature of who God is. Just as trying to understand why or how another person can love us is a misplacement of our attention, so too, it is with trying to understand God. What we should be doing is enjoying that love, living in that love, and responding to that love.
God intends for us to be loved and to know we are loved. His greatest gift of love was to send His own Son into the world so that we would be able to put a human face upon this love and to receive in a tangible way of the mystery of His love. Jesus taught us about love in His words and deeds, and most especially when He left us His body and blood in bread and wine, literally as food and drink to nourish, empower, and sustain us spiritually along the journey of life we each need to tread. The love it took to leave Heaven and enter into this life of brokenness and suffering is beyond any comprehension. No matter how much we try to understand what it took for Jesus to suffer and die for us, we can never fully know, nor can we know the depth of the love that beat in His heart as He walked this earth. To have been close to the beating heart of Jesus must have been incredible for those who encountered Him whether in a fleeting moment or as followers. But that heart still beats with love for us and has passed through death in the ultimate triumph of love. We still encounter the Sacred Heart of Jesus every time we encounter Him in sacrament or in prayer. The love of Christ never ceases and it is offered over and over for each one of us.
It is very important to the Lord that we spend time with His Sacred Heart in the love He wishes to share with us. We need to spend time in prayer not so that we can tell Him things He does not know, (since He already knows everything about us), but in order to hear our own thoughts and words in light of His love and to allow His love to permeate us and change our own heart. If we do not pay attention to our relationship with Jesus daily, we will lose sight of His love for us and its sanctifying power. We will grow cooler in love without realizing why, until we begin to only go through the motions because we know we are supposed to do "Christian things" but without the power to really savor them. Being human we will struggle with loving the way He wants us to know love and love others, but we can always reclaim it since His love is never ending. We will not always feel this love; a mistake people often make is to expect to feel something. Often His love for us is so deep that it is beyond our ability to feel it, therefore we need to trust it and rely upon His promise to us.
May we find a home in the Sacred Heart of Jesus! May our first love be the motivation for all our loves! May the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus enliven our hearts! May we enjoy the love of Christ for us so much that we are moved to share it with others in word and deed! May we have a heart for the poor, the marginalized, the sick and the lonely! And may we have gratitude for the love with which we are loved from so beautiful a Heart as the Heart of Christ! Let us continue to meet in the Sacred Heart of Christ the Lord! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
* Pope Francis' homily can be found at http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/06/06/_pope_at_mass_priests,_never_forget_your_first_love/1101441
The photos are mine. The first is of an ordination, as mentioned in the first paragraph. The second is of my parents wedding rings on my Bible.
The two icons are the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols. The first is La Sangre de Christo and can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/all-categories/product/44-la-sangre-de-christo.
The second is The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/all-categories/product/54-the-most-sacred-heart-of-jesus