The Sacred Heart

Friday 16 June 2023 The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Deuteronomy 7:6-11
Moses said to the people: ‘You are a people consecrated to the Lord your God; it is you that the Lord our God has chosen to be his very own people out of all the peoples on the earth.
‘If the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, it was not because you outnumbered other peoples: you were the least of all peoples. It was for love of you and to keep the oath he swore to your fathers that the Lord brought you out with his mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know then that the Lord your God is God indeed, the faithful God who is true to his covenant and his graciousness for a thousand generations towards those who love him and keep his commandments, but who punishes in their own persons those that hate him. He is not slow to destroy the man who hates him; he makes him work out his punishment in person. You are therefore to keep and observe the commandments and statutes and ordinances that I lay down for you today.’

Psalm 102 The love of the Lord is everlasting upon those who hold him in fear.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion,

The Lord does deeds of justice,
gives judgement for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses
and his deeds to Israel’s sons.

The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults.

1 John 4:7-16
My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away. My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us, and his love will be complete in us. We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit. We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God. We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’


Happy Feast Day. We celebrate today a universal reality – that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The word in Aramaic word for “heart” is “leb-ab”, which wasn’t understood physiologically, just as a body part. In the time of Jesus there was a broader understanding of “heart” than we have in our modern context. They thought of the heart as the organ that gives physical life and the place where you think and make sense of the world, and where you feel emotions and make choices. For the Hebrews “heart” was not just a place of emotion or sentiment but a place of intelligence. 

The Institute of HeartMath in California has been researching the intelligence of the heart for the last 30 years and has made important discoveries. There are more neural pathways leading from the heart back to the brain, than from the brain to the heart, meaning the heart communicates more to the brain than vice versa. The heart gives off its own electromagnetic field as it beats which is instrumentally measurable. When a person is in harmony within themselves there is a field of ‘coherence’ and has a positive, calming, peaceful, and collaborative influence on the surrounding environment. When there is a field of ‘incoherence’ the opposite influence is created, disturbance, anxiety, stress.  Not so surprising to us as we know the effect on us when we are in the presence of a person of great integrity, or when we are in the presence of who is all over the place with head and heart in conflict within them selves.

To appreciate this rich symbolism of the human “heart” in the person of Jesus, it helps us to recognize that his heart was a centre of enormous coherence. The core of his person radiated the energy of the Sacred. The dictionary meaning of sacred is “connected with God or dedicated to a religious purpose. Re ligio means to bind back into the whole. So, the Sacred heart is one that is “holy” or whole, complete, something precious, honored, and revered. The heart of Jesus is the centre and the circumference. The sum total of all reality brought together as one. There is nothing small about the Heart of Jesus.

Teilhard De Chardin says, “Love alone can unite living beings, so as to complete and fulfil them…For it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves.  All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of people and of the earth.”

His heart is the seat of love. This sense of the heart is clear in the words of the first reading, “If the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, it was not because you outnumbered other peoples: you were the least of all peoples. It was for love of you “ or the second reading, “God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

The language of ‘heart’ appears over nine hundred times in the Scriptures. In the Psalms alone ‘heart’ appears 132 times: Ps.4, God speaks to a person in his heart and there probes him. Ps.37, I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.  The heart is the place of one’s desires. Ps.44, The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. Ps.9 Thou hast put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. God knows the secrets of the heart.

Paulinus of Nola noted the image of the beloved disciple in John 13. resting on Jesus, listening to his heart, “John, who rested blissfully on the breast of our Lord, was inebriated with the Holy Spirit, from the Heart of all creating Wisdom he quaffed an understanding which transcends that of any creature.”  Here resting on the heart of Jesus, at supper, the disciple Jesus loved could request to know the secrets that lay in Jesus’ heart. “Who is it, Lord.” The heart of Jesus is the place where our destinies can be known.

Adoration is the first attitude towards the Heart of Jesus.

In the Gospel we hear the qualities of God expressed in the language of heart. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will rest, for My yoke is easy and My burden light”.  

While meditating today on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are invited to see in his heart the image of the Father – “to have seen me is to have seen my Father”John 14. We also recall the desire of the heart of Jesus that we may be one, “Father may they be one as you and I are One” John 17.

Adoration leads us to Communion with Jesus and one another, to become one together as he is one with the father.

Throughout the Gospel, we see the outpouring of Jesus’ heart, whether in miracle stories, the reconciliation of sinners, or the compassion for the grieving. Even on the cross, he poured out His love for us: there the soldier’s lance pierced His side and out flowed blood and water (Jn 19:34).  I am captured by the image of the woman with the hemorrhage who only needs to come into close proximity with Jesus and she is healed – such is the coherence of the heart of Jesus. We recall Zaccheus who climbed the Sycamore tree so attracted was he to the stories of who this Jesus was in himself. Or again the crowds who upon seeing him were moved by his presence and who sensed the authority of his heart. The Heart of Jesus draws people into his feild of love.

In the 1979 encyclical Redemptor hominis, n.8Pope John Paul II, says ,“Vatican Council II in its penetrating analysis of the ‘contemporary world’ reached into the depths of the human person. To do this, it descended, as did Christ, to the depths of the human conscience, reaching right to the interior mystery of the human person, which in the language of the Bible and even outside the Bible is expressed by the word ‘heart’. Christ, Redeemer of the world, is he who has penetrated, in a unique and absolutely singular manner, into the mystery of humanity; he has entered into the human ‘heart’”

Communion brings us together for the Mission of the Heart.

A retreat preached by Fr. Mollevaut, a Sulpician priest, made a profound impression on Chevalier’s soul, he says he came out of the spiritual exercises converted and more ardent in his vocation. The specific prayer of this spirituality was Christ-centred and summed up in three steps;
Christ before our eyes – contemplative and adoration.
Christ in our hearts – affective and communion.
Christ in our hands – union with Christ in action.

Like Chevalier may we always live from the sphere of influence of the Heart of Jesus. May we, with our hearts unified and transcended by his, spread the feild of his love out into the world. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved.