Feast of the Sacred Heart– a celebration of God’s love
Every year, on the last Sunday of September, we celebrate our Parish Feast – the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast is a love-feast, a celebration of God’s love.
It is note worthy that we have never had a feast of Jesus’ sacred brain, even though it was hypostatically united to the Word of God. We never had a feast of Jesus’ sacred hands, even though they reached out and healed many, were nailed to the cross. We have never had a feast of the sacred feet of Jesus, even though they traversed the Holy Land to bring us the Good News. No, we only celebrate the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and do so for two reasons:
First, the heart, in biblical terminology, symbolizes the centre and entirety of a person. To say that a person has a good heart or has no heart is to talk about the overall character of that person. To focus on Jesus’ Heart is to focus on His entire Person.
Second, the heart is obviously an organ of love. To ponder on Jesus’ heart is to meditate on the love that flowed from the heart, pierced for our offences. The devotion to the Heart of Jesus is a devotion to the merciful love of Jesus. It is from this heart that we joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation.
But we also know that a heart can be broken, wounded, when love is not reciprocated. Speaking about the callousness of the people, God said, “ I took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though, I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred.” (Hosea 11: 1-40) Even then, he refused to punish, because “I am God and not a man, the Holy One present among you. I will not let the flames consume you.” (Hos 11: 9) Instead, he wanted to bring his people to conversion, so that they might receive his life, live in his love, and share it.
But just as with people of Israel who took God’s incredible love and saving deeds for granted, so have we. When Jesus appeared in the 1670s to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the apostle of the Divine Mercy, he said ,“Behold the heart that has so much loved men that it has spared nothing, even exhausting and consuming itself in testimony of its love. Instead of gratitude ,I receive from most only indifference, irreverence, sacrilege, and the coldness and scorn that men have for me in the sacrament of love.” The sacrament of love to which he is referring is the Holy Eucharist. That’s why Pope Benedict back in 2007, when he gave us his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist called it “sacramentum caritatis,” or “the Sacrament of Love.”
Jesus said that in response to his pouring out his heart for us in the Eucharist, he received from most only apathy, impiety, frigidity, contempt, and desecration. These are unbelievable words! But it got even stronger. “What I feel the most keenly, Jesus lamented,“is that it is hearts that are consecrated to me that treat me in this way.” It applies to every baptised Christian, who through baptism has been consecrated to the Lord. It is one thing when so many in the world take Jesus’ gift of himself for granted, but when Christians, all the more Catholics, who know that the Eucharist is Jesus’ body, blood, soul and divinity, neglect him, who prioritize games, or work over him, it wounds him. That’s why in reparation for the offences against his heart, he asked for three different Eucharistic devotions. The first would be the feast of the Sacred Heart on the Friday after Corpus Christ, to unite the Sacred Heart specifically to the feast of Jesus’ Body and Blood. Second, he asked for people to come to Mass and receive him worthily on first Fridays, a day especially dedicated to the Sacred Heart.And third, on Maundy Thursday, he asked us to spend time in Eucharistic adoration as he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It is one of the great glories of our Cathedral Church that for many years now,Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, has been adored uninterruptedly, giving him the love he deserves and doing reparation for all the ways, not just in the Eucharist, people neglect him and wound him. If we wish to have a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we need to recognize both the reality of his person as well as the depth of his merciful love in this great sacrament.
I also believe that Jesus teaches us even more the way we can love him and repair the damage done by ourselves and others. We just need to reverse what he himself said to St. Margaret Mary. Instead of treating him with indifference,we are supposed to make him in the Eucharist, the biggest difference in our life, as our true priority, as the ‘source and summit’ of our life, the fulcrum of our week and day. In contrast to those who treat him with coldness, we are called to treat him with passion, to be more enthusiastic about him that the most fanatical follower of a sport team is about his hometown squad, and to show it through the way we sing with gusto, pray the Mass, welcoming others with warmth and love. In response to those who treat him with contempt and scorn, we are called to treat him with grateful appreciation, even endless thanks giving. And in contrast to sacrilege, we are called to receive him as a holy temple fit for his presence, among other things. The devotion to the Sacred Heart is meant to transform us, to help us adore and receive Jesus in the Eucharist with precedence, piety, passion, praise and purity – in short, by treating him as he deserves.
One of my favourite scenes in the life of St. Margaret Mary is when Jesus mystically took her heart out of her breast, placed it in the burning furnace of his own heart, melted away all the impurities and frigidity, and returned it to her, so that she could love with the same fire with which Jesus loves the Father and others. As we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us ask for the same heart transplant. “O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine!”
HappyFeast to all !!!