Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Ezekiel 34:11-16; Romans 5:5b-11; Luke 15:3-7
The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us to turn our attention to the heart. The heart is the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of each individual’s affective life, the very core of his or her being. The Heart of Christ is aflame with the love of the Father for all the members of the human race. The pierced Heart of Christ is the fountain of life and the source of living water. Christ emptied himself out of love for us. He who was rich became poor so that we might be made rich in grace and be filled with His love and live our life abundantly. Christ so loved the world that He took the sin of mankind into His sacred heart rather than inflicting on the children of Adam and Eve the punished they justly deserved. I loved this quote from Pope Francis. “A shepherd does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked: he is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need” (Pope Francis, June 3, 2016).
When he handed himself over for us Christ manifested the father’s love and mercy towards the human race. Recall these words spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead those that are with young” (Is. 40:11). The Good Shepherd reveals the depths of his love by seeking out the strays. When he finds them, He gathers them close to His heart and gently tends to their wounds. The Light and Life of the world seeks out those who are wandering in the land of darkness and death. The Way and the Truth leads his sheep into the way of life. The Good Shepherd gives rest to the disquieted souls, feeds their deepest hunger and satisfies their thirst. He died, the just for the unjust, and from his pierced heart flowed streams of life-giving water. The Beloved Son Who did not know sin became sin so that we sinful human beings might come to now the righteousness of God and know his lowliness. Having been found by the Good Shepherd we come to know God as our unchangeable Friend and all-sufficient Portion.
The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). The parable of the lost sheep reminds us that the Beloved Son always does what He sees his father doing. In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he is not afraid to takes risks. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he is stubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one. Christ seeks out the sinner by entering into the valley of darkness. God loves us and welcomes us as we are. He rejoices when we turn to him and repent. Even though we may be broken we still exist. Even though we walk in the valley of darkness, God is with us. He gives us the courage to do the right thing, to share that love that has been poured out into our hearts. In Christ’s Sacred Heart we see the Father’s love for us. In his victory over death, he changes our hearts to be more like His.
Christ loves us and calls each of us by name. Because he laid down his life for us, we are no longer strangers but friends. The Heart of the Good Shepherd is not only the Heart that shows us mercy but it is the fountain of mercy. In the Heart of Christ, we know that we are welcomed and understood. In the Heart of Christ, even with our burden of sin, we know that we are chosen and loved. No one is excluded from his heart, his prayers or his loving embrace. Without being asked, Christ approaches us in our need. Stretching out his hand, he gives us his love and compassion. With a shepherd’s loving heart, he draws all people to himself.
I take You, O Sacred Heart, for the only object of my love, the protector of my life, the pledge of my salvation, the remedy of my weakness and inconstancy, the atonement for the faults of my life, and the secure refuge at the hour of my death.