THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
First Reading: Deuteronomy 7:6-11
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 102(103):1-4,6-8,10
Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-16
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:25-30
The heart, both a physical organ and a symbol of love and compassion, holds a profound significance in human understanding. It is a vessel that pumps life-giving blood throughout our bodies, sustaining our existence. But beyond its biological function, the heart has long been revered as the seat of emotions and the core of our being. Celebrating the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are invited to contemplate the depths of divine love that flows from the heart of Christ. This feast invites us to ponder the immeasurable compassion and mercy that emanate from the Sacred Heart, reminding us of the boundless love that God has for each one of us. It is a celebration that beckons us to open our hearts and receive the transformative power of Christ’s love, allowing it to permeate every aspect of our lives. Thus, we are called to encounter the heart of God Himself, a heart that beats with a love so profound that it can heal, restore, and bring us into communion with Him. Little wonder all three Readings of today talk about our God who “hearts” (loves) us so much.
In our first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy (7:6-11), we are reminded of God’s covenant love for His chosen people. The Lord declares, “It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set His heart on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it is because the Lord loves you.” Just as God’s love for His people was not based on their merit, so too, Jesus’ love for us is unconditional. The heart of Jesus beats with boundless love for each one of us, regardless of our flaws, failures, or sins. We are chosen and cherished by Him, not because we are deserving, but because His love knows no bounds. The psalmist in Psalm 102 (103) rejoices in the mercy and compassion of God. “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.” The Sacred Heart of Jesus embodies these divine attributes. It is in His heart that we find solace, healing, and forgiveness. Jesus’ heart is open wide to receive us, embrace us, and pour out His love upon us. He desires to heal our wounded hearts and bring us into communion with His merciful and loving heart. In a nexus, our second reading from the First Letter of John (4:7-16), we encounter the fundamental truth that God is love. “Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” This passage reminds us that the love we are called to share with one another finds its origin in God Himself. Likewise, in the Gospel reading from Matthew (11:25-30), Jesus speaks these comforting 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.” These words reveal the tender and compassionate heart of Jesus. He is the One who offers us solace and rest, especially in times of weariness and burden. His heart is the sanctuary where we find refuge and peace, the place where our worries and anxieties find relief. In the heart of Jesus, we find the perfect model of humility and gentleness, qualities we are called to cultivate in our own lives.
Dear friends, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the font of love and the wellspring of Mercy. Therefore, being the emblem of love, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is naturally defined. Was it not for the motive of love for humanity that Christ suffered & died? Was not all His inner, even more than His outward life dominated by this love? Put differently, this is the heart that loved us, suffered for us, passed through death; a heart that was pierced with a lance through His side, of which flowed “blood and water” (cf. Jn. 19:34). The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art (like the image above) as a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding. Sometimes the image is shown shining within the bosom of Christ with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus’ death, while the fire represents the transformative power of divine love. Therefore, it is pertinent to note that the love that flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not a mere sentiment or emotion. It is a love that is sacrificial, self-giving, and transformative. It is a love that calls us to love one another as Jesus has loved us. It is a love that challenges us to extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones, to reach out to the marginalized, the forgotten, and the broken. It is a love that compels us to forgive, reconcile, and build bridges of unity. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us take a moment to reflect on the immense love that flows from His heart. Let us open our hearts to receive this love and allow it to transform us.
Let us emulate the Sacred Heart of Jesus by extending mercy, forgiveness, and compassion to those we encounter, and we should endeavour to make reparations to this Sacred Heart that loved and suffered so much for us; for the wounds and suffering it endured, etc., always seeking solace, inspiration, and consolation from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.. May our hearts become more like His, reflecting the love that He has poured out for us. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be our source of inspiration, comfort, and strength as we strive to love one another and live as disciples of Christ, and to live in union with Him now and forever. Amen.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE NEXT DAY’S REFLECTION: REFLECTION/HOMILY FOR THE MEMORIAL OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY)
© By Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo.
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PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?