Sunday, 9 November 2014

Cor Iesu, templum Dei sanctum: Feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

Today's feast brought me back to reflect upon the how the icon may be read as an aid to contemplate the Sacred Heart as the 'temple of God' - Cor Iesu, templum Dei sanctum . The first reading at mass was from Ezekiel (47: 1-2, 8-9, 12). Here we read about the healing life-giving waters that flow from the side of God's Holy temple.  In the Gospel of John we read about how Jesus made a whip out of some cord and scattered the money changers and the rest. Here Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that He is the temple of God.( John 2:13-22)  Later in the same gospel John places great emphasis on the fact that water and blood flowed from Jesus's side as he hung on the cross.  For the early Fathers of the church, these passages were of great significance and indicate that the idea of the Sacred Heart is to be found in the earliest recorded Christians writings.

The icon has prompted me to reflect anew on the heart of Jesus  -as the Litany of the Sacred Heart  says -  the Holy Temple of God.   We see echoes of Ezekiel in the icon with the life-giving waters from the side of the Holy Temple: as as in Ezekiel, we see fish and fruit. Jesus is the Temple of God from which all life flows.  He calls upon humanity to drink from these living waters.  But there is more - as we find in the reading from Paul ( 1 Corinthians 3: 9-11, 16-17). We are temples : we are God's building.  As the tradition of the Sacred Heart has for so long taught:  Jesus desires to live and burn in our hearts.   

Today's feast is, therefore, in so many ways, a feast of the Sacred Heart: the Holy temple of God.

Saint John Paul - the great Pope of the Sacred Heart- had this to say in his Angelus meditations on the Litany of the Sacred Heart in June 1985. *

'[The] Heart of a man is similar to so very many human hearts and, at the same time, [to the] heart of God the Son.  If therefore it is true that every man 'dwells in some sense in his heart, then the heart of the Man of Nazareth, of Jesus Christ, God dwells.  It is the 'temple of God', being the heart of this man....The heart of the Man Jesus Christ is therefore, in the trinitarian sense, the temple of God': it is the interior temple of the Son who is united with the Father in the Holy Spirit by means of the unity of the divinity.  How inscrutable is this mystery of this heart which is the 'the temple of God' and the 'tabernacle of the Most High.' At the same time it is the true 'dwelling place of God with men (Rev 21:3)  because the heart of Jesus in its interior temple embraces all men.  All dwell there, embraced by eternal love.  To all - in the heart of Jesus - can be applied the words of the Prophet: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you' (Jer 31:3) '

John Paul prayed that our hearts may become like that of Christ: ' a holy temple of God' .  'Yes', he proclaimed,' We are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in us, according to the words of St Paul (1 Cor: 3: 16).

' Through the immaculate heart of Mary, let us remain in the covenant with the heart of Jesus who is the 'temple of God, the most splendid, 'tabernacle of the most high' and the most perfect.' 

As we pray with an image of the Sacred Heart, we ask for our heart to become like the heart of Jesus: a temple of God.

Heart of Jesus, Holy Temple of God, have mercy on us. 

* These are published as "Litany of the Heart of Jesus', by Pope  John Paul II. 

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