June 19, 2020

Christ the Cornerstone

Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us to love without reserve

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“The essential nucleus of Christianity is expressed in the Heart of Jesus. … His divine Heart calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to abandon our human certainties to trust in him and, following his example, to make of ourselves a gift of love without reserve” (Pope Benedict XVI).

The publication date for this column is Friday, June 19, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In today’s Gospel

(Mt 11:25-30), our Lord is quoted as saying, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:28-30).

Jesus, the only Son of God Almighty, proclaims himself to be meek and humble of heart. This is not greatness as the world sees it. This is divine greatness, a force so powerful that it can, paradoxically, express itself in meekness and self-sacrificing love.

Jesus does not need to exalt himself over us. He knows who he is, and why he was sent by the Father to take upon himself the yoke of our selfishness and the burden of our sins. He invites us to imitate him, to share in his suffering and find comfort and rest in him.

In today’s first reading (Dt 7:6-11), Moses says to the Israelites (and to us): “You are a people sacred to the Lord, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the Earth to be a people peculiarly his own ” (Dt 7:6). The Lord has “set his heart on us” (Dt 7:7) not because of our greatness, wealth or power. He has chosen us—in spite of all our inadequacy—because he loves us. And he invites us to join him in accepting the burdens of humility and love so that we can be free.

We learn in today’s second reading (1 Jn 4:7-16), that the face of God is revealed in love and that God’s boundless, unconditional love is made perfect in our love for each other. “In this way the love of God was revealed to us” (1 Jn 4:9), St. John tells us. “God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1 Jn 4:9-12).

We celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as an acknowledgement that Christ’s meekness is our strength. We accept our Lord’s invitation to come to him and enter into his rest because we believe that the burdens he carried for our sake, and the suffering he endured because of our sins, have redeemed us and set us free.

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and Earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones” (Mt 11:25), Jesus prays.

The greatest mysteries of human life are revealed in Christ’s self-sacrificing love. As he told us repeatedly, the only way to win the battle of life is to surrender to the will of God. “Understand, then,” Moses said, “that the Lord, your God, is God indeed, the faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation toward those who love him and keep his commandments” (Dt 7:9).

God’s love is not sentimental or superficial. It’s the real thing. God’s love is mighty and powerful at the same time that it is meek and humble. It relieves our burdens at the same time that it asks us to take up our crosses and live for the sake of others.

Today, let’s pray to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

“O most holy heart of Jesus, we adore you; we love you; and with lively sorrow for our sins, we offer ourselves to you. Make us humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, good Jesus, that we may live in and for you. Help us to love others—those closest to us as well as those who are far away—so that with the help of your grace our yokes will be easy and our burdens light. Amen.”

Let’s ask the Sacred Heart of Jesus to unite our hearts with his and, so, find comfort and rest in him. †

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