Homily (Reflection) for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (B) (11th June, 2021) on the Gospel and the Solemnity


Hos 11:1.3-4.8-9;

Is 12:2-6 (R. V. 3);

Eph 3:8-12.14-19;

Jn 19:31-37.

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.[1]

Topic: Sacred Heart of Jesus loves you.

God is love (1Jn 4:7) and Jesus Christ is the symbol of God’s love for us, (cf. Jn 3:16) whom He sent to save the world, (1Jn 4:14). Hence for Saint John,

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins (1Jn 4:9-10).

It is about that heart that loves us so much that we read in today’s gospel: “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out” (Jn 19:33-34).

A young man was bragging himself as one with a perfect looking heart until an old man came up with a heart full of scars and empty spaces to challenge him. Although the young man with good-looking heart scorned him, the old man said to him:

“Yes ... yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love, I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we share.

“Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty spaces – giving love is taking a chance. Although these empty spaces are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space. So now do you see what true beauty is?” (Culled from Sagayanathan, A. (2009). Launching pad: Stories for Sunday Homilies year – A, B & C. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, pp. 179-180).

The introduction to today’s solemnity in The Sunday Missal: A new edition reads: “Man’s rejection of God’s love is tragically symbolized by the piercing of the heart of Christ on the cross” (The Sunday Missal: A new edition (1995). London: HarperCollinsReligious, p. 579).

So my dear brothers and sisters, hope you are not one of those people Jesus gave a piece of His heart to who never returned a piece of theirs? As Jesus’ heart was pierced for His love for me and you, what about your own heart? Has it ever been pierced for your love for God and for your brothers and sisters? Or is your heart still as perfect looking as that of the young man who bragged himself as one with a perfect looking heart because he never loved anybody including God? There is no need rising with the bride in the Song of Solomon in search of the one who loves us so much, cf. Song 3:2. Jesus has long been standing at the door of your heart knocking, cf. Rev. 3:20. The most sacred Heart of Jesus seeks our love in return and loving Him in return is the best and the only thing He seeks, cf. 1Cor 13:1. Father Sagayanathan concludes the story with this:

The heart of Jesus is ripped, bruised, pierced, wounded and is bleeding constantly for love of each one of us. Let us allow him to patch our heart so that his eternal love may flow into us and make it the most beautiful part of self (p. 180).

Bible Reading: Jn 3:16-21; 1Jn 4:7-21.

Thought for today: How much do you love God in return?

Let us pray: Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are aware that we have repeatedly abused your love for us. As we celebrate you, we plead for a new heart that will enable us love you in return and our brothers and sister as we ought – Amen.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – Thy kingdom come!

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