I am gentle and humble of heart
After reading today’s gospel (Matthew 11: 25-30), Fr Paul shares with us a beautiful reflection on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Pope Pius XII gave an encyclical about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in it, he writes ‘Jesus has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that love with which the divine redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings without exception’.
Fr Paul says that to appreciate this celebration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we need to remember that in Judaism the word ‘heart’ represents the core of the human person. It was considered the centre of all spiritual activity and the seat of all emotion, especially love. While Jesus’s heart obviously served a physiological function, spiritually his Sacred Heart also represents love – the divine love He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Trinity – the perfect divine love God has for each of us, and the genuine human love Christ felt in his human nature.
In the scriptures, we see an outpouring of the heart of Jesus in the miracle stories, the reconciliation of sinners and compassion for the grieving. Even on the cross, Jesus poured out his love for us.
The early church fathers, too, clearly cherished the meaning of the Sacred Heart of the Lord. Throughout the Middle Ages devotion to it grew and, in 1353, Pope Innocent VI instituted a Mass honouring the mystery of the Sacred Heart. Later, the apparitions of our Lord received by St Margaret Mary in 1645 were the catalyst for a feast day in honour of the Sacred Heart and the offering of our Lord’s saving grace and friendship if an individual attended Mass and received Holy Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays of the month.
In 1899, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and since then various successors have exhorted the faithful to return to the Sacred Heart and to make acts of personal consecration.
Fr Paul concludes today’s reflection with the words from the preface of the Mass in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: ‘Lifted high on the cross, Christ gave his life for us, so much did he love us from his wounded side flowed blood and water, the fountain of sacramental life in the Church. To his open heart the Saviour invites all people to draw water in joy from the springs of salvation.’
Knowing that the heart of our God is always open, Fr Paul says we might pray that we are open to that invitation into the heart of God