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

June 23, 2017

Fr. John Eudes Bamberger, OCSO

11th Friday of Ordinary Time
Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Deuteronomy 7:6-11;1 John 4:7-16

Today as we are celebrating the Feast of the Sacred Heart we are encouraged to consider the personal expression that our Savior’s love took in his life here on earth. Like the word “love” the term “Heart” has a wide variety of meanings.  The association of heart and love is widespread in literature and in conversation. The life of Jesus was unique from his conception. This surely is true of his personal consciousness. While he grew like any human child yet from the moment of his conception he was a Divine Person. Yet none of the Doctors of the Church, as far as I know, has described the implications of this fact for his early months in the womb and years of his early childhood.

The personal experience of our Lord in his years as a child is hinted at by implication in the account of his talk with the doctors in the temple at the age of twelve. If his exchanges with the learned teachers in the temple gave rise to their admiration of his learning, it implies that from his early years his mother and St. Joseph taught and discussed the Bible with him. When he entered upon his public life of preaching and teaching, he was a master of Biblical revelation. He was not only at ease in discussing various passages of the Hebrew Scriptures, but confidently challenged the learned temple authorities. He made such a positive impression that the authorities found no way to defeat his views by argument. In the end they resorted to violent force.

This strength of mind and character gives force and vitality to the love that we honor in this Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To grasp something of the real nature of the Sacred Heart of our Savior we need to recall that our Lord revealed it not only by the great acts of sympathy in His healing of so many sick, but above all by submitting to the mental and physical suffering that He willingly accepted for the healing of our deepest self. True love is not only tender and supporting; as Jesus showed in his own person, it is strong and demanding, accepting suffering and even death.

Already in the days of early Judaism the fact that fidelity to Good was demanding was given prominent expression as we heard in the first reading from Deuteronomy. There is no mincing of words. The Lord, we are warned, is serious: “He repays with destruction those who hate him, He does not dally with such a one but makes them personally pay for it.” But we are also given assurance that He is “ the faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation.” St. John provides us with even greater reason for hope as he proclaims to us that: “God sent His only Son into the world that we might have lie through Him.” In the Gospel we have just heard, Our Lord Himself sums up the meaning His Sacred Heart has for each of us who put our trust in Him: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.” In this Eucharist we offer with gratitude we receive a foretaste of the fulfillment promised us by the Sacred Heart of Jesus.