Feast Of the Sacred Heart of Jesus May 30, 2008

The readings: [Deut. 7:6-11; 1 Jn. 4:7-16; Mt 11:25-30]

Today’s celebration of this Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus echoes the Divine love of God that was manifested in both, the human and divine natures of our Lord Jesus Christ. Linguistically speaking, the word “Sacred” is synonym to “Divine” and the word “Heart” is synonym of “Love.” As such, when reference is made to the Sacred Heart, it is understood to be a reference to the Divine love of God that echoes the Sacred nature of the Lord; “God is love.”  In the Sacred Heart is revealed the undeserved love of God that was manifested through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.

During today’s First Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, we heard Moses say to the people, “You are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be His people, His treasured possession.” They are called and chosen to be his people, his precious possessions.  God made a Covenant with a people and over time, the Covenant was dissolved because the people turned their back to God, refusing to obey His commandments. This first Covenant was finally replaced by a second in Jesus through the Eucharist and cross. The initiative and the love of God is manifest. Today’s Second Reading from The First Letter of John touched on this subject. Faith in Christ and the manifestation of love towards our brothers and sisters are the twin signs of fellowship with God. If we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we love God and we have fellowship with God.  As children of God, we must love one another because love is from God.

St John tells us that God’s love for us was revealed through His Son, our Lord Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Eternal life here is not defined as living forever. Rather, it means to know God as He knows Himself. It means to enjoy to eternal beatific vision of God.  St. Paul tells us that of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love. It is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, these being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

In the Gospel of today we have the prayer of Jesus.  According to this prayer of thanksgiving to the Father we learn that the wonders of our faith have been hidden from the wise and the intellectuals. In accordance with the gracious Divine Will of the Father, they have been revealed to infants, the peasants, simple people and the working class. It does not require wisdom and understanding to grasp the message of Jesus. It is made known only by revelation. This does not mean that the message of Jesus was denied to the wise and the intellectuals. No, indeed, the message of Jesus was and continues to be proclaimed to all, this being revelation. But unfortunately, only the simple accept the insight that the Father grants to those who wish it.  In Jesus, the simple, the infants, the peasants and the working class perceive the manifestation of God the Father. In faith, they move forward in their spiritual growth. The wise and the intellectuals, they are hung up on the “how.” They must know how this is possible, that God the Father incarnated on earth through Jesus. They cannot overcome the obstacle because they have created a blockage, an intellectual blockage that demands answers. At this point, even if the Holy Spirit inspired the truth to them, they would not hear it. For they have hardened their hearts.

Who are these simple people? They are like the shepherds who could hear the word of God, see the babe Jesus and proclaim the good news. They are like the disciples who are called to remain close to Jesus and listen to him with open heart. They are like Martha and Mary who could listen and serve. They are like the women of Jerusalem who could trust they could role the stone at the tomb and anoint the Lord and yet believe him when they encounter him. Those who are simple, when they look at a holy picture or a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who do they see? In Jesus, they perceive the whole fullness of the Blessed Trinity dwelling bodily. First they see Jesus, then the Father and the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus, they find their way to the invisible Father who manifested Himself in bodily form through Christ.

The Gospel Reading concluded with the words, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  The invitation to the weary and the burdened is an invitation to the poor who have had the good news proclaimed to them. They are “the blind who receive their sight, the lame who walk, the lepers who are cleansed, the deaf who hear, the dead who are raised, and the poor who have good news brought to them.” When one submits himself in humility and obedience to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the peace and joy that he receives in the love of God is so overwhelming that the yoke becomes easy, the burden being light. The recompense that one receives from living in the love of Jesus is so great that life obstacles, no matter how great they are, become meaningless. It is no longer the individual who is carrying the crosses of life; it is Jesus Himself.

Anecdote: Crossing  the Water   those simple and filled with love of God:A farmer’s daughter duty was to carry fresh milk to customers in various villages had, one of whom was a priest. To reach his house, the milkmaid had to cross a good-sized stream. People crossed it by a sort of ferry raft, for a small fee.  One day the priest, who performed worship daily with the offering to God of fresh milk, finding it arrived very late, scolded the poor girl. “What can I do?” she said, “I start out early from my house, but I have to wait a long time for the boatman to come.”  Then the priest said “What! People have even walked across the ocean by repeating the name of God, and you can’t cross this little river?” This milkmaid took him very seriously. From then on she brought the priest’s milk punctually every morning. He became curious about it and asked her how it was that she was never late anymore.  “I cross the river repeating the name of the Lord,” she replied, “just as you told me to do, without waiting for the ferry.” The priest didn’t believe her, and asked, “Can you show me this, and how you cross the river on foot?” So they went together to the water and the milkmaid began to walk over it. Looking back, the woman saw that the priest had started to follow her and was floundering in the water. “Sir!” she cried, “You are uttering the name of God, yet all the while you are holding up your clothes from getting wet. That is not trusting in God!”




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