Friday, June 12, 2015

We Are All Loved Sinners

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
By Colleen O’Sullivan
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,  who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; Yet, though I stopped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer.  My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred.  (Hosea 11:3-4, 8c)
For this reason I kneel before the Father,… that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  (Ephesians 3:14, 17-19)
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.  (John 19:33-34)
Lord, may my heart be a dwelling place for you.
In December of 1673, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a sister at a Visitation convent in France, experienced a vision of Jesus in which the Lord allowed her to rest her head upon his heart, while he spoke to her of the abundance of his love for all the world as well as for her.  Through the centuries, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been one way to celebrate God’s love for all of us, especially as witnessed in the life, suffering and death of Jesus. 
All three of our Scripture readings for this feast are beautiful expressions of God’s love for us.  In the passage from Hosea, God remembers the tender love he had for his child Israel.  It was God who taught Ephraim to walk, God who wrapped his young child in love, God who fed him.  God recalls with sadness the way in which Israel chose to walk away.   But God is moved to pity rather than anger and forgives his wayward child.
The apostle Paul kneels and prays that each of us might come to know the infinite dimensions of the love of God in Christ.
John gives us a glimpse of Jesus, who, out of love for us, literally pours out his life blood on the Cross.
As I read the Scripture readings for today, I thought back to last summer, when I had the privilege of making the 30-Day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises at a Jesuit retreat center in New England.  One morning, after my retreat director and I had finished talking about what I had prayed the day before, she said, “Now this afternoon you’re going to want to close your curtains and have your box of Kleenex at hand.”  The sun was out, the sky was deep blue, dotted only by a puffy cloud here and there, the ocean lay at the end of the lawn – what could possibly disturb my sense of well-being and make me want to close out the world and hang on to my tissues? 
Sit before your crucifix and reflect on the merciful, compassionate, and immeasurable love God has for you.  Think about the many times you are the child spoken of in the reading from Hosea – willful, self-centered, willing to walk away even from the Source of life and love.  Consider the great love of the Father for us, his willingness in his pity to send his only Son into our midst, and to allow his Son to suffer and die on the Cross for our sins.
Talk to Jesus as he hangs on the Cross.  Why did he become one of us?  How is it that he was willing to suffer and die for your sins?  Feel free to tell him whatever is in your heart.
Finally, ask yourself:  What have I done for Christ?  What am I doing for Christ?  What ought I to do for Christ? (From an exercise in the First Week of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises)

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