Throughout the history of humanity, the heart has been considered a very important part of the human body if not the most important one. Many religions and philosophers taught that the heart, being one of the vital organs, is the center of the human body, the seat of life, emotion, reason, thought, will, intellect, purpose, or the mind.
In our Catholic Church, the heart has been given great importance since the Bible teaches that what we do is according to our heart’s dictates (“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” [Proverbs 4:23]) and that it is through the heart that we think (“For as a man thinks in his heart, so shall he be” [Proverbs 23:7]). Jesus taught that seeing God depends on the purity of the heart (“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” [Mt 5:88]) and that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21). Because of the importance given by the Church to the heart of a human person, the Catholics even arrived to the point of giving devotion not only to the Sacred Heart of Jesus whose feast we celebrate today but also to the Immaculate Heart of Mary whose feast we will celebrate tomorrow.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus did not emerge simply because of the importance of the heart of a human person. It developed out of the devotion by the Catholics to the Holy Wounds, in particular to the Sacred Wound at the side of Jesus. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is depicted as a flaming heart, shining with divine light, pierced by the lance wound, encircled by the crown of thorns, surmounted by a cross, and bleeding. It is a wounded and bleeding heart.
If the heart is the center of human life and the seat of emotion, understanding, and will, and this heart is wounded and bleeding, this means that the whole human being is suffering gravely. Hence, Jesus Christ, with a wounded and bleeding heart, suffered gravely in His whole humanity especially while dying on the cross. The reason behind His sacrifices, suffering, and death was the salvation of man. His wounded and bleeding heart, which is the seat of His emotion and will, demonstrates how great the love of Jesus for the whole of humanity is as to sacrifice Himself for their salvation. Hence, He said: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). This fact Jesus said and did.
Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the heart that sacrificed a lot for the love of each of us. Now, Jesus Christ is challenging us in the gospel: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30). With these words, Jesus is inviting us to come to Him. We should not be afraid and must never worry to go to Him. He is our Lord and Savior who loves us with a great heart; a heart that sacrifices, is wounded, and that bleeds for the sake of each one of us. The goal of His sacrifices is our salvation; the goal of all His love is our fullness of life and eternal joy for “the glory of God is man fully alive” (St. Irenaeus).
The question is: How do we go to Jesus? To go to Jesus, we must take His yoke, that is, the yoke of His teachings, commandments, and examples. Truly, it is not easy to carry the yoke of Jesus; it is not easy to fulfill His teachings and do His deeds. But neither are they impossible because, as He said, His yoke is easy and His burden light. The yoke of Jesus becomes easy and light only if we love Him because the love of God capacitates us not only to fulfill the teachings of Jesus but also to love our neighbor and even our enemies.
We go to Jesus and we learn from Him. What do we learn from Jesus? Jesus said: Learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart. Of course, we need to know the teachings of Jesus; we need to follow His commandments and to do His examples. But we cannot do those things if we do not learn from His very Self, His being gentle and humble in heart. Like Jesus, we must be humble in all our endeavors and relationships; we must be gentle in our treatment of one another. Only God is great; we are mere servants of Jesus. And so, after we have done all the things required and demanded by our work, ministry, or volunteerism, we must simply say to ourselves: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty” (Lk 17:10).
As we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us ask for the intercession of our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She has the Immaculate Heart patterned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us ask her to bring us to her Son Jesus and to pattern our hearts to the sacred heart of her Son. It is only with the heart like the heart of Jesus that we can carry and fulfill the yoke of Christ’s teachings and commandments. It is only when our heart is wounded in the service of our neighbors that we can serve the least, the last, and the lost. It is only when our heart bleeds for the love of God that we can glorify God in our words and deeds. It is only with that kind of heart, patterned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that we can see and commit to our goal: eternal salvation. It is only with such kind of heart “that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” (The Little Prince). God Bless!!
Sacred Heart of Jesus
(White) Cycle A/Year I (June 16, 2023)
Dt 7: 6-11/1 Jn 4: 7-16/Mt 11:25-30
FOOD FOR THE SOUL/REV. FR. ORLANDO MENDOZA/BICOLPERYODIKO NEWSPAPER WEEKLY)