FRIDAY, TWELFTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Ez 34: 11-16; Ps 23: 1-6; Rom 5: 5-11; Lk 15: 3-7
DO YOU HAVE A SHEPHERD’S HEART?
Today along with the entire Church we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated on August 31, 1670, in Rennes, France, through the efforts of Fr Jean Eudes (1602-1680). From Rennes, the devotion spread, but it took the visions of St Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) for the devotion to become universal.
St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a great apostle of the Sacred Heart had a vision of Our Lord, during the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on December 27, 1673. Jesus invited her to offer sacrifices in reparation for the offences inflicted on his Sacred Heart. This was to be done by receiving communion on the first Friday of each month; by an hour of vigil every Thursday night in memory of Jesus’ agony in Gethsamene; and by celebrating the feast of the Sacred Heart every year. In 1856, Pius IX extended this feast to the Universal church.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not a peripheral devotion, but it is to honour and love God, which is the heart of our faith, and is centered on the heart of Jesus as the emblem of Divine love. At the center of this feast is the heart of Jesus, full of love for the world. St Paul reminds us “Love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5: 5).
Linguistically speaking, the word “Sacred” is synonym to “Divine” and the word “Heart” is synonym of “Love.” As such, when reference is made to the Sacred Heart, it is understood to be a reference to the Divine love of God that echoes the sacred nature of the Lord; ‘God is love.’(1Jn 4:8) This Solemnity is an invitation – from the one who is himself meek and lowly in heart; an invitation – to learn from his Most Sacred Heart and become his disciples.
The readings of the day from Prophet Ezekiel invite us to meditate upon the nature of the Sacred Heart of Divine Shepherd, and to see if our hearts are like him.
A Searching and Seeking Heart: God says: “I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them” (Ez 34:11). He is a kind of Shepherd who goes after the one which is lost, until he finds it (Lk 15:4). The Word became flesh and came near to his own in order to search and seek the humanity which was lost to heaven. Are you willing to go in search of people who are away from the divine life?
A Redeeming Heart: “I will seek out my sheep and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered” (Ez 34:12). Jesus paid the ransom to redeem the humanity. Men and women were under the bondage of sin. Jesus shed his blood to pay the price of life of humanity. He bore the weight of his sheep on his shoulders: “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing” (Lk 15:5). Are you ready to take up some sufferings for the sake of redeeming a person from the bondage of sin?
A Gathering Heart: “I will gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land” (Ez 34:13). “And when he comes home he calls together his friends and his neighbors” (Lk 15:6). Community and communion is the plan of God. The divine heart yearns for the unity of humanity. At the same time, we see people competing to make divisions and sub division in the name of cast, creed, colour etc. Do you have a heart which makes efforts to unite people?
A Feeding Heart: “I will feed them on the mountain heights of Israel” (Ez 34:13). Jesus gave himself as the Eucharistic food for his people. Do you have a heart that feeds the hungry? A Healing Heart: “I will bind up the injured” (Ez 34:16). Jesus died on the cross to heal the wounds of sin: he is the wounded healer of humanity.
A healing heart that not only heals but restores hurting hearts. Do you have a heart that alleviates the pain of people?
An Empowering and Protecting Heart: “I will strengthen the week” (Ez 34:16). Jesus comes to empower and protect.
Response: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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