Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9
Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19
"To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14
There is no doubt that every one of us has wrestled with the question, "How do I know that I am truly loved?" Maybe this question has occasioned sleepless nights or endless conversations with others. To love and be loved is what our heart longs for with great passion. Ideally, we are born into a loving family, we make loving friendships and we enter into significant life-long loving relationships. However, we do not live in an ideal world, and some of us are born into a family where love is not given or expressed, where we have not chosen our friends wisely or entered into life-giving and life-long loving relationships.
This feast, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, invites us to take all of our doubts and worries about love and being loved and place them into the Heart of Jesus. It shows us the height and depth and breath of God’s love for us and what happens when the Divine Heart encounters the Human Heart.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus began to love from the very first moment the Word became Flesh. Mary, his mother, was the first beneficiary of this love, and she was the first one who loved him in return with a human love that only a mother can give. As Mary carried Jesus in her womb, the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to touch the lives of those around him. Did not John, his cousin, leap for joy when Mary came to visit Elizabeth, her cousin? Did not Joseph become more just and compassionate when he came in contact with the pregnant Mary? The Sacred heart of Jesus is forever reaching out to touch our lives and inviting us to love in return.
And Jesus learned what it means to love in a human way living with Mary and Joseph. Did Jesus not learn compassion and charity from the example of Joseph and Mary, his loving parents? To love and be loved are the two sides of the same coin.
This kind of Love demands faith, which surpasses all knowledge, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading for today’s Mass. So many never go beyond our human experience of love, that is, the desire to know for certain that we are really and truly loved, that someone cares for us so deeply, that we will never have doubts in our hearts about that love. So often, we use human measures to mark our certainty that we are loved. We are loved if no harm ever comes to us. We are loved if we are saved from suffering. We are loved if our family and friends are spared the afflictions of this life. If we find ourselves asking the question repeatedly, "Why do these things happen to me?" we may still be living our lives just on the human plane, and have not entered more fully into a life of faith.
Jesus’ Sacred Heart experienced the joys and sorrows of this life. He rejoiced in his family, his mother and father, his cousins and friends, in his neighbors and countrymen. He was also moved with pity and compassion when he met the blind and the lame, the hungry and the poor, the outcasts and the cast-offs of society. On the other hand, Jesus suffered insults and rejection, hatred and violence, distain and hostility. Ultimately, he was condemned, tortured and crucified. This is what we call Unconditional Love.
The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is about Unconditional Love. God’s Unconditional Love for us and the call for us to give Unconditional Love to God and to our brothers and sisters, that is, to everyone born in this world. When we do that, we are filled with the fullness of God.
Fr. Clemente Barron, C.P. is a member of the General Council of the Passionist Congregation and is stationed in Rome.