On the Gospel of John 19:31-37
Solemnity of the Sacred Heart
The heart is, above all, the emblem of love. When Our Blessed Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, he showed his heart in the midst of flames, surrounded by thorns, and with a cross above it. ‘Behold this Heart’, he said to her, ‘which has so loved all men, even to the extent of sacrificing itself as proof of love for them’. Following the visions of St. Margaret Mary, a special feast in honour of the Sacred Heart was commissioned for the first Friday after the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi. Our Lord promised that he would dispense the riches of his Sacred Heart on those who showed him honour on this feast. This devotion to the heart of Jesus is above all a manifestation of love toward our Loving Saviour. The devotion is based entirely upon the symbolism of the heart. It is this symbolism that imparts to its meaning and its unity, and this symbolism is admirably completed by the representation of the Heart as wounded.
It is impossible for us to understand how much Our Blessed Lord suffered for us while on earth. The greatest suffering the heart of Jesus experienced was not from the vision of the torments and the insults that his executioners were preparing for him, but from the ingratitude which would be shown to the immense love of his heart. He saw clearly all the sins we would commit despite his sufferings and ignominious death. There is no greater suffering for a heart which has loved than to see its love despised. In devoting oneself to the all loving Jesus one cannot fail to observe how his love is rejected. One of the essential phases of the devotion to the Sacred Heart is that it considers the love of Jesus for us as a despised, ignored love. Nevertheless, the heart of Jesus responds faithfully to all whom he calls to his divine love. This divine fidelity gives us confidence to hope for everything from him even though we are worthy of nothing.
Even if we have driven the Lord from our heart, once we open the door to him, he enters at once just as he has promised to do. The heart of Jesus is so full of gratitude that not even the slightest good deed done out of love for him, not even the slightest word spoken in honour of his glory, goes without its reward. He is so grateful that he rewards everything done for him a hundredfold: ‘Everyone…will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life’ (Mt 19:29). It is to the heart of Jesus that we owe all the graces of our redemption, of our calling, of the inspirations we receive, of our forgiveness, of the help to overcome all temptations, of the courage we need to bear our sufferings. The heart of Jesus is burning with love for us, and in his presence, shall we not burn with love for him?