Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and all our Scripture readings speak of God’s love. In our first reading, Moses reminds the people that they are not the chosen ones because they were a numerous nation, or had status among nations, but because “the LORD loved you…” In our second reading, we are told: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.”
In our Gospel reading, Jesus says these familiar words: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Here Jesus is contrasting Himself with the religious leaders of the day, who did put burdens on the people with regards to living out the Law of Moses, but did nothing to help them. Jesus is there to help us.
If we think about Jesus’ command to love, especially when we’ve heard in recent days about turning the other cheek and loving our enemies, it seems that the yoke Jesus wants us to take is not all that easy. To love in the way of which Jesus speaks can often be challenging! And so it can seem easier to actually follow the Pharisees’ example and be only concerned with the letter of the law.
But Jesus’ yoke, the commandment to love, can be “easy” and “light,” when we accept Jesus’ great love for us into the depths of our hearts. The more we know deep down how much we are loved, the freer we are to respond by loving others, and the closer we get to God in Jesus Christ, which, in turn, enables us to respond more easily to Jesus commandment, and so on.
Jesus’ Sacred Heart is full of love for us. May His love fill our hearts and overflow into the world. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.