The past eight weeks have been unusual, to say the least. With schedules, lives and people’s world turned upside down, every person has been through a challenging time. A time of rest is likely needed.
The Church’s liturgical calendar, centered on Christ’s own life, has just such a rest coming up on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus June 19. The feast celebrates the very center of the life of Christ, the spoke of the liturgical wheel, His Sacred Heart, source of divine love.
Public and private revelations about the Sacred Heart of Jesus have existed in the Church from the beginning. Eucharistic miracles from Lanciano, Italy, in the seventh century and from Sokolka, Poland, in the 21st century, continue to highlight the same detail that Scripture reveals in the Passion narratives: Jesus’ heart, given freely in love, is made of human, myocardial tissue, bruised and near death. All point to this wonderment, that God-made-human’s own heart remains in love with creation.
This love flourishes from the relationship of the Holy Trinity, whose feast is just remembered the previous week. The Sunday before the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is Corpus Christi, the body and blood of Jesus. Here the beauty of living the liturgical life is well illustrated: That is, the feasts connect the dots of God’s great outpouring of life. That which blooms at Easter and flows through Divine Mercy Sunday, the Ascension and Pentecost, blossoms in Ordinary Time in our June feasts.
It is the divine exchange of love between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which animates the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart, in turn, is what offers all people the divine life and love where we can all rest and live eternally.
These days, this year, perhaps we all could use a moment of rest? Is this not what summertime is for, to allow our selves, our families, our communities to return to the verdant pastures, led by our Good Shepherd to the green fields with still, calm waters to drink, to experience a renewal and refreshment of our souls? Even in the midst of a pandemic? Especially in the midst of uncertainty and chaos, Jesus’ merciful heart is always open and waiting for His love to be welcomed in by us.
On this feast, our Lord opens his Sacred Heart in a particular way. As there are many rooms in the Father’s house, there are many chambers in the Son’s heart, with space for all to come and rest. There we will be revived, there in the embrace of life itself we will be renewed, to go and serve His people.
St. John, the beloved disciple, at the Last Supper laid his head upon Jesus’ chest and felt God’s very heartbeat. Imagine being so close, such a friend to Jesus. When receiving visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Gertrude the Great and later, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, were both invited to do the same. Any parent well knows the value of resting a crying baby upon their bosom. The child alone knows what the mother’s beating heart sounds like … from the inside. In fact, “skin-to-skin” contact is greatly valued in hospitals moments after birth, so a newborn can regain the comfort and hear the very rhythms, which pulsed through its ears for the first 9 months of life.
This intimacy of relationship is innate to our human condition. Jesus knew the sound of His mother’ heart, Mary’s immaculate heart. How much greater would our Lord’s heart be — a comfort in the time of exhaustion, rest to the weary, balm to the soul?
God calls us, like a mother, like a father, and holds us near to His heart. Imagine if, in prayer, you could hear the beating of Jesus’ heart. How close might we be to Him? How might we react to such an invitation, to share beat for beat, in His own divine life? Would we finally find and accept the rest we seek?
Jesus promised this to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, “In my tenderness, I will bless the children of my Sacred Heart. The heart that burns with zeal for Me will find consolation in my Heart.” In God, our rest, our hope is found. It is the Sacred Heart of Jesus alone that will heal and save the world.
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