- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

June 19, 2020

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Deuteronomy 7:6-11, 1 John 4:7-16, Matthew 11:25-30

Today’s feast has a great deal to do with God’s love for the human race. We have only to ponder Jesus’ words: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only son, that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). The Beloved Son who is nearest the Father’s heart chose to become a man so that he might fulfill the prophecy made by Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). To heal the wounds of our hearts, Christ allowed His heart to be wounded.

The human heart has been understood to be the locus of deep feelings of affection, compassion for the beloved. The devotion to the love of God, which has been disclosed in human terms in Jesus, is often focused on the absolute fullness of human/divine generosity when Jesus pours out all that he is. It is awesome to think that we did not initiate this relationship with God. It was He who loved us first. The soldier’s lance pierced our Savior’s heart to prepare a pathway for us to our eternal home where we can learn the great wisdom of Christ’s mercy. As we gaze upon the Sacred Heart of Christ let us come to know and accept His infinite love for us. The Psalmist gives expression to our amazement at God’s loving concern for us. “When I look at the night sky and see the works of your fingers – the moon and the stars you set in place – what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Ps. 8:3-4) When God looks at human beings, he sees the work of his hands, vessels of clay capable of holding a precious gift, the Breathe of the Spirit. Oh, that we had eyes to see what God sees, and hearts to love what God loves.

The Word of God took to himself a heart of flesh to prove to all men and women that hearts can be changed. “The one who did not know sin was treated as a sinner so that we might be made righteous” (2 Cor. 5:21). He who was blameless was accused of sin for us. He who was pure and free from sin became a curse for us. His condemnation became the cure and restoration of the human heart. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our hardness of heart. The chastening for our well-being was on him. By his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:5). In the face of sin, injustice, prejudice, and hatred the Son of God “bore our sins in his body on the cross so that we might have a change of heart and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). He did not condemn us but was condemned for us so that we might have a change of heart. When his heart was pierced, he poured out the river of life whereby we could be healed, forgiven, and reconciled.

Christ does not stop when disappointed neither does he yield to weariness. He is stubborn in doing good and refuses to lose sight of anyone. Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also searches out those who do not wish to enter them. It is important to keep in mind that the pain, the suffering and the wounds of Christ were parts of the process. By embracing the pain and suffering around us we will find the path to wholeness and reconciliation. The Sacred Heart of Christ assures us that He understands our pain and suffering. No one is excluded from his heart. Because the love of Christ dwells within us our stone-cold hearts can be transformed into hearts of flesh.
The Lord Jesus whose heart was wounded out of love takes our wounds to himself. The Heart of Jesus is the portal through which we must enter into the sanctuary of a sweet, loving union, with Christ. There, we gain an intimate knowledge of the Savior. He who overcame death by dying invites all who labor and are heavy-laden to come to him where we will find rest for our souls. When we come to him, he will place his yoke upon us. Once yoked to Christ, we do not have to repair the damages of the world by ourselves. Clinging to the heart of Christ we will find the courage to put the needs of others above our fears and inadequacy. As his heart was pierced for love of us, we must be willing to allow our hearts to be pierced out of love for others so that the brotherhood among the members of the human family might be restored.

The Heart of Christ tells us that his love is limitless and everlasting; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. In the heart of Christ, we see his infinite and boundless self-giving. In the heart of Christ, we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets us free and makes others free. In the heart of Christ, we discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn 13:1), without ever being imposing. From the depths of his heart, Christ speaks to the depths of our hearts. In all that we do and in all that we say, we are to manifest his kingdom of light, salvation, and peace.
Many people are cynical about all this talk about Christian love. To these cynics St. John of the Cross offered this suggestion: “Where there is no love, put love and you will find love.”  Writing to Timothy, Saint Paul stated: “Because I preach the Good News, I am bound in chains like a criminal, but God’s message is not chained” (2 Tim. 2:9). As we deal with the restrictions put upon us by COVID-19, we must keep in mind that fidelity, kindness, love, and humility cannot be quarantined, isolated, or locked down. When we allow our hearts to be wounded with the wounds of Christ, the world will see the signs of his love. When we allow our hearts to burn with the fire of divine love the world will find the path to reconciliation.