Ez 34:11-16, Rm 5:5b-11, Lk 15:3-7
When we think of the concept of God, what are some notions that come to mind? He is omnipotent (or all-powerful). He is omniscient (or all-knowing). He is the Unmoved Mover: the Uncaused Cause or First Cause. He is the Creator of the Universe.
These ideas about God tend to be cool and aloof, distant, detached, uncaring, uninvolved. Or, maybe from parts of the Old Testament we developed an image of God of always being angry, or cranky, vengeful, wrathful because we weren’t living up to his expectations.
In Jesus we see a very human side of God. In Colossians 1:15 we read that he “is the image of the invisible God.” And in John 14:9 Jesus says, “Philip, whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” When we read the Gospels and the New Testament we see a God who has feelings, who can be hurt, who can be vulnerable, who can feel sad, who can cry, who can feel betrayed.
To me, that’s the purpose of the feast we are celebrating today—to remind us of God’s love, his tenderness, his longing for our love in return. Officially, we are celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But in a way, we are celebrating the Sacred Heart of the whole Trinity.
Let’s take a look at a few examples from our Gospels that can demonstrate just how sensitive the Heart of Jesus was. In Luke 22 Jesus says to Peter, his trusted friend whom he had made leader of his Church, “Simon, Simon! Remember that Satan has asked for you, to sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may never fail. You in your turn must strengthen your brothers.” And Peter, in his exuberance replies, “Lord, at your side I am prepared to face imprisonment and death itself.” Yet, within a few hours, he denied three times that he had anything to do with him, even behaving cowardly at the voice of a servant girl. According to Jesus’ prediction, as Peter denied him the third time the cock crowed. Luke tells us that at that very moment, “The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken to him, ‘Before the cock crows today you will have denied me three times.’ He went out and wept bitterly.” One can only imagine the look on Jesus’ face that made Peter go out and weep so bitterly. One of the attributes that we have assigned to God is that he is impassible—or incapable of suffering or feeling pain. But I bet the face of Jesus at that moment was anything but impassible. At this time of great trial and loneliness, Jesus deeply desired a manly friend to encourage him and give him strength. But Peter had caved.
It kind of shakes us to think of Jesus weeping or crying. In some cultures that would be considered unmanly. Yet, the authors of our Gospels don’t seem to be at all ashamed of depicting that side of Jesus. In Luke 19:41 we read that he wept over Jerusalem and said, “If only you had known the path to peace this day, but you have completely lost it from view!” Elsewhere (Lk 13:34), Jesus exclaimed over Jerusalem, “How often have I wanted to gather your children together as a mother bird collects her young under her wings, and you refused me!”
In the 11th chapter of John’s Gospel, we read about the raising of Lazarus. Jesus used to relax at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus and felt a deep bond with them. The very human heart of God is revealed in this scene. As Jesus approached Bethany, Martha came out to meet him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would never have died.” Soon after, Mary also came out. John relates for us, “When Mary came to the place where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord if you had been here my brother would never have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had accompanied her also weeping, he was troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotions. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Lord, come and see,’ they said. Jesus began to weep, which caused the Jews to remark, ‘See how much he loved him!’ “ This passage goes so far in demonstrating that the heart of God is not distant and aloof. He deeply cares for each one of us and cries when misfortune befalls us.
So, on this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us be thankful for the revelation of a God so close to us. In his tender love, he has made himself vulnerable. Let us not make any choices that would cause him to be sad. Let us pray, through Mary’s intercession and example, never to offend him but rather always please him.