Thursday, June 02, 2016

A Heart Full of Love

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Thus says the Lord God:  I myself will look after and tend my sheep…  The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.  (Ezekiel 34:11, 16a)

Brothers and sisters:  The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. (Romans 5:5b-6)

Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes:  “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?  And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them “’Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’”  (Luke 15:3-6)

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. (Psalm 23:1)

Sacred Heart, Odilon Redon,
1910, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Why is it so difficult to believe that Jesus loves me unconditionally, that no matter what wrong I do, or how far I stray, Jesus’ love will remain constant?  I suspect it has to do with the limits of the human imagination, hard experiences of conditional love, and my intimate knowledge of all that lies in my own heart. 

Jesus’ wounded heart is on fire with love for each and every one of us.  Betrayed by one of his inner circle, ridiculed, tortured, and executed on a cross, Jesus could only say, ”Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”  In Jesus’ heart, there exists an infinite wellspring of mercy and compassion toward us.

If only my heart were a tenth as pure.  In my heart, I often find ingratitude, the source of all sin.  My wounds sometimes fester for quite a while before I get around to forgiving and letting go.  My heart isn’t always inclined toward the lost or the least in our world.

Yet Jesus’ heart beats on with incomprehensible love for me.  When I am lost, he looks for me as a shepherd would search for the one sheep missing from his flock.  My hurts he seeks to heal.  My sins he forgives.  When I am restored to wholeness, he wants the whole world to rejoice!  As the psalmist says, with the love of a God like that, what else could I possibly need or desire?

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a day for contemplating the loving heart of Jesus.  Sinner though I may be, I am always and forever a loved sinner.  This feast day calls for profound gratitude.  No matter how far I may stray into the wilderness, Jesus always searches for and finds me and carries me home.

When in your life has this been your experience, too?

No comments: