Today’s feast of the Sacred Heart invites us to reflect more deeply on the mystery of love. In human relationships, love typically grows over time, through a mutual giving and receiving of ourselves. It begins with an encounter; a dialogue develops; we learn about one another; we spend time together; we give of our time and listen to one another, and we open ourselves up to one another. This leads to doing kind deeds, acts of thoughtfulness, for one another: we love and are loved in return.
The love a parent has for a child, however, does not follow this pattern. Instantly, as soon as the parent realizes, “this is my child,” love for the child wells up from within, a love never experienced before. This bond of love motivates the parent to care for, protect and guide the child.
Perhaps this can help us understand the love God has for us. St. John, who leaned on the Heart of Jesus and experienced the depth of divine love, writes about it in his First Letter: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” Today’s reading reminds us that “the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.” Why? Because God is love, and he wants his love to be “brought to perfection in us.” The Father wants us to know the love he has for the Son, and vice versa, through the Holy Spirit.
All of salvation history is the story of how God has been revealing his Love – that is, revealing himself. In today’s first reading, Moses tells the people how uniquely special they are to God: “You are a people sacred to the LORD, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own.” He reminds them how God freed them from slavery in Egypt. He also reminds them of God’s faithfulness to “those who love him and keep his commandments.” With today’s feast we claim this extraordinary covenant of love for ourselves: we are a people sacred to the Lord; he has rescued us from slavery to sin. He asks us today “to carefully observe the commandments, the statutes and the decrees” that he has taught us as the way of love.
How can we carefully observe the commandments? In today’s Gospel Jesus gives us the answer: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. In him all Truth resides. He who is Love with the Father and the Spirit is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As we grow in love with Jesus, we want to take up his yoke. We find rest in his Sacred Heart, for we find that his commandments become less and less burdensome.
How do we grow in love with Jesus? Pope Francis gives us a suggestion in this week’s Spiritual Reflection: “To adore Eucharistic Jesus and to walk with him….We adore God who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave himself for us, offered himself on the Cross to atone for our sins, and by the power of this love rose from the dead and lives in his Church. We have no other God but He!” Today’s feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus gives us an opportunity to ponder God’s great love for us beating in the Heart of Jesus and contained in a mysterious way in the Eucharist. Jesus tells us today, “no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” He wishes to reveal the Father to us! Let us accept his invitation and take the time to reflect on the love of God revealed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Then we can go forth to love God more, and love our neighbor more, because we are loved so much.
Do I ever ponder on the truth that I am sacred to the Lord who rescued me from the slavery of sin? As I find rest in his Sacred Heart, do I find Jesus’ commandments becoming less and less burdensome? Desiring a deeper relationship with Jesus, do I spend more time in prayer to get to know him better?
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 16, no. 5. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.