15 Jun – Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Heart That Was Pierced
Man’s rejection of God’s love is tragically symbolised by the piercing of the heard of Christ on the cross.
- The Sunday Missal
Listen to the word of the Lord:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
and I called my son out of Egypt.
I myself taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them in my arms;
yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them.
I led them with reins of kindness,
with leading-strings of love.
I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek;
stooping down to him I gave him his food.
Ephraim, how could I part with you?
Israel, how could I give you up?
How could I treat you like Admah,
or deal with you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils from it,
my whole being trembles at the thought.
I will not give rein to my fierce anger,
I will not destroy Ephraim again,
for I am God, not man:
I am the Holy One in your midst
and have no wish to destroy.
I, Paul, who am less than the least of all the saints have been entrusted with this special grace, not only of proclaiming to the pagans the infinite treasure of Christ but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. Why? So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is why we are bold enough to approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him; This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name:
Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.
It was Preparation Day, and to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the sabbath – since that sabbath was a day of special solemnity – the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture:
Not one bone of his will be broken;
and again, in another place scripture says:
They will look on the one whom they have pierced.
So that Christ may live in your hearts
I had never really taken a good look at the image of the sacred heart of Jesus. At first I thought it strange that a picture of a realistic-looking heart is used to represent the love of Jesus. Then I saw that there are other images besides the heart, and together they are symbols pointing to the meaning of Christ’s love for us. The heart is surrounded, and appears to be bound tightly by a ring of thorns. It is not a pleasant image, but above it rises the cross, upright and surrounded by blazing fire. The symbolism of this image is rather profound.
We all experience ups and downs in our spiritual life. When things are going smoothly, it is relatively easy to feel thankful towards God for all His blessings. In times of desolation, when we do not understand all the wrong things that are happening to us and God seems absent, it feels very challenging to continue making efforts at praying, going for mass, and so on. Through the image of the sacred heart, we see that Christ’s glory and love triumphs over His suffering. Although we yearn to be free of our burdens and temptations, living in God’s love does not mean that they will just vanish without a trace. Rather, it means that God’s love will enable us to live with them and eventually overcome them.
It is not easy to grasp the idea that sharing in Christ’s love means sharing with His suffering, that bad things will continue to happen to good people, and that we will have to continually battle evil in our lives. You might wish to take some time today to meditate on the image of the sacred heart, and reflect on its significance in your lives.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray for the strength and wisdom to grasp the breadth and the length, and the height and the depth of the love of Christ.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the hope that faith in Christ brings.