I’m back from vacation, so I will resume writing and posting homilies. Podcasts will resume as soon as I can find the voice recorder I usually use to record them during Mass…Homily for July I, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
The essence of Christianity can be summed up in one word: love.
Everything that God has done for humanity is a manifestation of His love, because as we read in St John’s first letter, “God is love”. “He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.” He is always willing to forgive those who repent; in the words of the psalm, “He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion”.
But of course, there is more to Christianity than the fact that God loves us; it is a two-way street. We also need to love God in return, and to love one another as God loves us. St John tells us that “if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us.” “Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
This is a very simple message, and it is the foundation and motivation behind everything else in Christianity. Yet, sometimes we can lose track of that message in all the other things that come with it – the institutional structures, the theological explanations, the ecclesiastical legislation, the logistical side of the life of the Church, and so forth. All of those things are important and necessary, but secondary. That’s why from time to time God takes the initiative to remind us that, in the end, it’s all about His love for humanity and our response.
One of those reminders is the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we celebrate today with a liturgical solemnity. This devotion began in the Middle Ages, but became more recognized and widespread starting in the 17th century through St Margaret Mary’s visions of the Sacred Heart. Jesus appeared to her and reminded her how much He loves us and suffered for us. He asked that devotion to the Sacred Heart be spread throughout the world so that people would remember that love and respond with love in return, instead of with ingratitude and indifference, as was – and is – all too common. He asked that we love Him all the more in reparation for all those who do not know Him or love Him.
We can show our love especially in two ways: by imitating the love and mercy of God in our dealings with others, and by spending time with God in prayer every day. It is especially good for us to show our appreciation for the gift of the Eucharist, which is the very presence of Christ Himself and which makes present His loving sacrifice of Calvary. To help us along that path, Jesus promised special blessings for those who receive Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays out of devotion to the Sacred Heart.
May our participation in this sacrament of love make us more and more like Christ. And so we pray, “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts more like Yours.”