Deut 7:6-11; 1John 4:7-16; Matt 11:25-30
The Praise of the Father
The human heart is designated as the center of a person. It is also considered as the place of all emotions and feelings. It refers to the whole human personality, the deepest core of our being. In Christian art a wounded heart, encircled with thorns and surmounted by a cross, represents the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A heart surrounded by a wreath of roses and transfixed by a sword is the Heart of Mary. Sometimes seven swords are shown, emblematic of the Seven Dolors or Sorrows of the Mother of God. A heart is also a symbol of one of the theological virtues, Charity. A flaming heart is associated with Saint Augustine of Hippo, in allusion to a passage in his Confessions (from New Catholic Dictionary).
Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. I’m sure all of us Catholics are familiar with it because His picture is found in most Catholic homes. Most Catholics have this specific holy picture on a wall in a glassed frame or in a stand-up frame. And there are many Churches, schools and hospitals bear the name of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has become so popular in the Catholic world since the 17th century. Here in the Philippines, this devotion is present in all parishes and even in Basic Ecclesial Communities and other religious organizations. Through this devotion God is closer to the people and the people to God.
Linguistically speaking, the word “Sacred” is synonym to “Divine” and the word “Heart” is synonym to “Love.” As such, when reference is made to the Sacred Heart, it is understood to be a reference to the Divine love of God that echoes the sacred nature of the Lord, ‘God is love,’ (1Jn. 4:8). The Sacred Heart of Jesus is revealed the undeserved love of God that is manifested through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for our sins (1Jn. 4:10); by which Jesus speaks to us His boundless love by simply showing His Heart.
What is Divine love? Is it the same as human love? Is it the same as the type of love that a child has towards his parents, his playmates, or all those in his environment? Is it the same as spiritual love that we have for our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ? Or is it different? Divine love is the love that flows from God towards us, through our spiritual growth by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. It is a self-sacrificial love that gives itself without boundaries or hesitation.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus had an unofficial and an official beginning. I say unofficial because as part of God’s progressive Divine Plan to make the devotion to His Sacred Heart known to the world, it was revealed privately and consequently practiced by many before the Holy Catholic Church gave it its official recognition. The Holy Catholic Church has always had a devotion to the love of God. This proof is found in the biblical writings of St. John and St. Paul. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believe in him may not perish but may have eternal life,” (Jn. 3:16) But this in itself is not a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus because it does not pay homage to the Heart of Jesus as the symbol of His love for us.
It was officially August 31, 1670, in the Grand Seminary of Rennes, that the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus became public through the actions of St. John Eudes (1602-1680).
Anthony de Mello in his Contact with God (pp. 136-137) was a great believer in the efficacy of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus because the experience of God’s love results in “untold benefits in the spiritual life: sinners will be given the grace of conversion, saints will make extraordinary progress in holiness. The essence of this devotion is to accept that love which the Father has for us in Christ. To accept the fact that Jesus loves us unconditionally: that he is love itself. If anyone accepts this truth in his own life and helps others to accept it, he cannot but experience extraordinary results in his own spiritual life and in his apostolate.”
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A
See also: Year B, Year C
Back to: Saints and Solemnities Homilies