Homily (Reflection) for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (A) (23rd June, 2017) on the Gospel and the Solemnity
Deut 7:6-11;Ps 102:1-4.6-8.10. (R. v.17);
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be traced back to the eleventh century. It marked the spirituality of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century and of Saint Bonaventure and Saint Gertrude the Great in the thirteenth century. The devotion to the love of God as symbolized by the heart of Jesus is found even in the fathers of the Church including Origen, Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Hippolytus of Rome, Saint Irenaeus, Saint Justin Martyr and Saint Cyprian.
But the first liturgical feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated, with episcopal approval, on 31st August 1670, in the major seminary of Rennes, France, through the efforts of Saint John Eudes. The revelations to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering gave this devotion more impetus. Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was approved by the papacy for Poland and Portugal in 1765, and for Venice, Austria and Spain in 1788. Finally, in 1856, Pope Pius IX extended it to the universal Church. Pope Pius XI raised it to Solemnity in 1928.
Topic: Cross in Love.
As we celebrate the love of God as symbolized by the heart of Jesus, Jesus calls in today’s gospel, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Again, the Psalmist wrote, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Ps 55:22).
These verses and similar ones taken in isolation might lead to the conclusion that following Christ shields one from every evil. The gospel reads further, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 11:29-30). Whenever one lowers the burden of sin he/she takes up that of righteousness and God support those who carry the burden of righteousness.
Both the virtuous and the wicked can suffer but the difference is in the outcome. The freedom of Christ has set us free from the heavy burden of sin. It is our duty to ensure that we do not fall back to the yoke of slavery to sin, cf. Gal 5:1. It is only a person who has made up his/her mind to be the slave of God alone who can say with Saint Paul:
Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:8).
Dear ones in the Lord, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Let us bear the yoke of the Lord of heaven and earth which is easy and light so that we may find rest for our souls.
Bible Reading: Is 1:2-20; 1Pt 3:8-22; 4:12-19; Phil 2:12-18.
Thought for today: Which burden do you bear – Christ’s or devils?
Let us pray: God our Father help us to remember always that we can have rest only in you. Give us also the grace to be always in you – Amen.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – Thy kingdom come!
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