Friday, 27 June 2014

The feast of the Sacred Heart, 2014

As we have noted elsewhere on this blog, as a Jesuit Pope Francis naturally has a special relationship to the devotion to the heart of Jesus – as the Society has long been in the forefront of promoting the devotion.  In modern times Jesuits like the Rahner brothers as well as Teilhard, of course,  have made important contributions to the theology of the Sacred Heart. Pope Francis drew attention to the continuing relevance of the heart of Jesus for our own times on last year's feast of the Sacred Heart. ( See Here) Last year he reminded us that the 'Sacred Heart of Jesus, is the highest human expression of divine love'. 

Today, the Holy Father has continued to develop his teaching on the Sacred Heart - as the highest expression we have of God's love + .  See Here for Radio Vatican report.

In his homily during the mass to celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart he said that  it reminds us that God is like a gentle father who holds us by the hand and we need to become like a small child to have a dialogue with Him.    The feast, he said, was celebration of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

“There are two aspects to this love.  First, love is more about giving and receiving.  Second, love is more about actions than words.  When we say it’s more about giving than receiving, that’s because love communicates, it always communicates.  And it’s received by the one who is loved.  And when we say that it’s more about actions than words, that’s because love always generates life and makes us grow.”

Pope Francis said that in order to understand  God’s love we need to become small like a child and what God seeks from us is a relationship  like that between a father and child. God gives us a caress and tells us: I’m by your side.

“This is the tenderness of our Lord and of His love; this is what He tells us and this gives us the strength to be tender.  But if we feel we’re strong, we’ll never experience those caresses from the Lord, those caresses from Him that are so wonderful.   ‘Don’t be afraid, for I am with you and I’ll hold your hand’… These are all words spoken  by the Lord that help us to understand that mysterious love He has for us.  And when Jesus speaks about Himself, he says: ‘ I am meek and humble of heart.’ Even He, the Son of God, lowers himself to receive his Father’s love.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily by noting that God is always there in front of us, waiting for us and urges God to give us the grace to enter into the mysterious world of his love.

When we arrive, He’s there.  When we look for Him, He has already been looking for us.   He is always in front of us, waiting to receive us in His heart, in His love.  And these two things can help us to understand the mystery of God’s love for us.  In order to communicate  this, He needs us to be like small children, to lower ourselves.  And at the same time, He needs our astonishment when we look for Him and find Him there, waiting for us."

The readings at mass today help us to understand this great mystery of God's love for us: a love that is active and always waiting for our response. A love that always waiting for us to open our hearts to divine love : a love that desires to burn in our heart.  In Deuteronomy (7: 6-11)  we read that the Lord has 'set his heart' on us. Out of this love he has set us free. But he waits for our response. In the Psalm ( 102) we learn that, for those who do open their hearts, the 'love of the Lord is everything'.  The God who waits for us is full of compassion and love and full of mercy.  He waits for our love: like a father waiting for his child.  And why? Because, as we read in St John's letter ( John 1, 4:7-16), God is love. If we do not love, we cannot know God.  Out of this love, Jesus was sent into the world to show us what God's love is like - and therefore what God is like, because He is love. Thus, says St. John, when we live in love, we live in God, and God lives in him.  In the Sacred Heart Jesus is calling us to live in God's love, so that God can live in us.  God becomes the centre of our life - our heart - and we can share in the life of Divine love. He is, in Pope Francis's words,' waiting to receive us in His heart , in His love.'

In Matthew (11:25-30) we are given the way to His heart.  In order to enter into the Love of God we have to  learn from His heart- a heart that is 'gentle and humble'.  All devotion to the Sacred Heart aims at this one thing: we ask for the grace for our hearts to become gentle and humble.  The Sacred Heart tells us that Jesus loves us, and asks us to place all our trust in that  immeasurable love and in God's infinite mercy.  He waits for us, not far off at the other end of the cosmos, but by our side.

Knowing this we should weep for joy. Knowing this , we should smile and laugh. Knowing this, we should not be afraid. He is with us, hand in hand, and heart in heart!

+ Sadly, Pope Francis was later unwell and was unable to make a visit to Gemilli hospital - part of the University of the Sacred Heart . The text of his talk was, however, released.

In the text, Pope Francis had written that a Christian should see his or her life as an opportunity to witness God's love by humbly serving and caring for others. The day's feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he said, was an occasion to reflect on how well one loves others. Is one consistent or "do I follow my moods and my fondness" for certain people?

The homily focused on Jesus' sacred heart as a sign and symbol of God's faithful, immeasurable love.

"God has set his heart on us, he has chosen us, and this bond is forever, not because we are faithful, but because the Lord is faithful and puts up with our infidelity, our slowness and our failures," the text said.

"We can experience and taste the tenderness of this love at every stage of our lives, in times of joy as well as sadness, in times of health as well as in sickness," Pope Francis had written.

Go here.

We pray that he may regain his health and strength.  

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