Friday, June 15, 2012

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today, on the Catholic liturgical calendar, the Catholic Church celebrates the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It is a day in which we recall the enormous infinite love that Christ has for each and every one of us.  It is a day when the Gospel of Saint John recalls the moments immediately after Jesus died when a Roman soldier pierced the Savior's side and immediately blood and water poured forth.  This became symbolic of the love that Jesus manifested by dying on the Cross.

Jesus had a broken heart.  His heart broke because of our sinfulness, our complete disregard for the Father's will.  On one level, He must have been stunned at the level of disrespect all of humanity shows the Father through our sinful nature.  He was the model of following God's will, seeing it everywhere and finding it in every aspect of life.  He taught us that through prayer and fasting, we may be able to discern the Father's will in a clear manner that would lead to our following it with more ease than we can imagine.  Often, in the gospels, we see Him going off by Himself to pray.  And this was not just a minute or two during the day to utter a Psalm or two.  No!  When Jesus prayed, He often prayed for hours, many times foregoing sleep to pray all night long.  He did this to achieve full communion with His Father and He also did this as an example for us all.

How many of us can actually say that when we pray, we could go on for hours?  Many of us feel proud of ourselves if we're able to achieve fifteen minutes of uninterrupted prayer in which we're able to fully concentrate?  Yet we must remember that Jesus was just as human as we are.  He had the same human limitations as we with the exception of our sinful nature.  He even had the same temptations that we experience.  Why is it that we cannot follow Jesus' example in prayer?

Jesus loved us fully with His human heart.  His Passion, Death, and Resurrection were all done out of His deep love for each and every one of us, even the worst of us!  He gave Himself up for each one of us.  It was not just something that happened to Him.  He chose to die even though it was completely unnecessary for Him to do so.  He took upon Himself the sins of the world.  He became guilty of each sin that we commit during our lifetime so that He might offer Himself up to the Father in reparation for our offenses.

"See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and so we are."  (1Jn 3:1)  It is in this selfless act of dying that Jesus reveals His Sacred Heart, the well-spring of God's love for humankind.  That heart, burdened with our sinfulness, was opened by a lance which in reality is symbolic of the sins of mankind.  The Blood of the Lamb poured out on man so that we may be washed clean.  "Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends."  (Jn 15:13)

How do our hearts measure up to Jesus' Sacred Heart?  Are we willing to actually die for someone we do not know?  Are we willing to become guilty of another person's crimes?  No one is that generous, yet, because Jesus became one with the Father through His sacrifice and great love in His heart for both the Father and the human race, He was more generous than we could possibly understand.

Jesus gave His Sacred Heart for us and to us.  It is the reason for His choosing to die for our sake.  Without that Heart, we would have had no recourse for the forgiveness of our sins.  There would be no reason to hope, no reason to have joy in this world because our fate would have been one of darkness.  But because of the generosity of that Sacred Heart, our future is nothing but joy and light!