15 Jun Sacred Heart of Jesus – The portrait of Divine Love
The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the second Friday after Pentecost every year. The Sacred Heart is the symbol of the immeasurable and steadfast love of God for each individual. The month of June, is a reminder of his never ending love and mercies. It serves as a reminder for all to mediate on this great love of God. Pope Pius XI sums up the devotion to the Sacred Heart writing, “Indeed, it more easily leads our minds to know Christ the Lord intimately and more effectively turns our hearts to love Him more ardently and to imitate Him more perfectly.”
We ponder your steadfast love, Oh God (Psalm 48:9)
God’s Love is constant and everlasting. It is a refuge for all and is the means of salvation to those who believe in him. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). The only Son, through his death and resurrection, invites us to be co-heirs along with him in his Father’s house. What a great blessing for each one of us? The greatest symbol of love that God shows to humankind is the Incarnation of his Son. In Jesus, we find the fullness of Divine Love. Becoming one of us, his heart is the embodiment of the burning love of God.
So much so that, St John the Evangelist declares, “God is Love.” John stood by Jesus during his life, passion and death. He stood witness to the blood and water that flowed from the side of the crucified Lord. He testifies to that great Love, the attribute, which he equals to God himself. As the one who leaned on the bosom of the Lord during the Last Supper, John reminds us of the recompense we have in his most merciful and compassionate heart. He reiterates Jesus’ invitation to all those who are weary. “For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:29)says the Lord. This invitation of Jesus, calls each of us to reconcile with the love of God, that was broken due to sin. The separation of human beings from the love of God created a chasm between heaven and earth.
Time and again in the Old Testament, God spoke through the prophets and signs of the love he had for his people. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3) and “my steadfast love shall not depart from you” (Isaiah 54:10). The Israelites too in their hymns of praise sing, “Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Jeremiah 33:11). However, the binds of sin were too much for them. It was not possible for human beings to understand and receive the love of God. Jesus came into the world to be a bridge, to tear the veil and to lead us into his Father’s house. And, His Sacred Heart reminds us of this love that moved him to obey the Father. Pius XII in his encyclical on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart writes, “we can contemplate and honour the Heart of the divine Redeemer as a symbolic image of His love and a witness of our redemption and, at the same time, as a sort of mystical ladder by which we mount to the embrace of “God our Saviour.”
The New Testament, itself is a witness of this great love of God. As the Son of God, came to reconcile humankind with the Creator, the purpose and means to this mission is love. He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31) That is the love of the Father. The love that gave his only Son to the world. And Jesus sums his sacrifice for us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Time and again through the Gospels and the Apostolic letters, the New Covenant of Love takes precedence. St Paul writes of Jesus’ love, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) The love of Jesus has gained victory over sin and every kind of bondage in this world. In this love, we need not fear. Jesus said, “Take courage, for I have conquered the world” (John 16:33) and through this love “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8: 37).
The human heart is full of anxieties and worries of the world. It is filled with the cares of the world. They are like of stone – heavy and burdensome. Jesus’ heart fulfils God’s promise in Ezekiel (36:26), “I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” When we meditate on the divine love, we find peace and rest. God said, “Be still and know I am God”. Jesus’ call to come and rest in him reiterates the rest we find on Jesus’ bosom. It is a call for all to rest in the amazing love of God and mediate its precepts. Let his love overcome our pains and sufferings and along with the great and mighty heart of Jesus, let them be transformed anew so that we may love the Lord, with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength as Jesus called us to. With St Augustine, we pray “You have made us, O Lord, for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”