June 24, 2022

Christ the Cornerstone

The Sacred Heart of Jesus nourishes us with the Eucharist

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“The designs of his heart are from age to age, to rescue their souls from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (Ps 32:11, 19).

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and we launched a three-year Eucharistic Revival here in our archdiocese and in dioceses throughout the United States. Today, less than a week later, we have the privilege of celebrating the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the feast that reminds us of the great love which God’s Son, Jesus, has for each one of us, his sisters and brothers.

One of the most familiar, frequently quoted passages in the New Testament is, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

In just one sentence, St. John the Evangelist tells us everything we need to know about the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He came among us as a direct result of God’s love for us and for all his creation. He suffered, died and descended into hell in order to rescue us from the power of sin and death. And he rose from the dead and ascended to his Father so that we might be set free to live with him forever in heaven.

To nourish and sustain us in our earthly journey, the Lord of Love sent the Holy Spirit to give us the courage and the confidence we need to be his disciples. He also gave us the most precious gift of love imaginable. He gave us himself, in the form of bread and wine, radically and substantially transformed through the eucharistic mystery into his body and blood, soul and divinity. The Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us that the tender love of Christ is with us, close to us, in the Holy Eucharist to nourish us and empower us with love for God and for our neighbor.

Christ’s Sacred Heart is filled with a love that overflows and must be shared. From this prodigiously generous heart comes mercy, compassion, healing and the kind of peace that is not temporary or intermittent but permanent and profound.

The love of Christ is beyond anything we can imagine, but its earthly expression is the holy cross, which is why images of the Sacred Heart include a cross and a crown of thorns that serve as vivid reminders of how far Jesus was willing to go to show his love for us.

The Gospel reading for today’s Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus illustrates the intensity of his love for us:

“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.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Lk 15:4-7).

There will be great rejoicing in heaven because we who are sinners have been rescued by the power of love and returned to full communion with God and all the angels and saints in our heavenly homeland. God’s love is boundless. His mercy is infinite. His willingness to give himself to us through the grace of the Eucharist cannot be contained. We are free to accept or reject his love, of course, but Christ never withholds it. His Sacred Heart is always there for us in his word, in our communion with our brothers and sisters in the Church, and most especially in the Eucharist.

St. Paul reminds us that “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). The Eucharistic Revival that we initiated last Sunday is intended to help us grow in our understanding of, and appreciation for, this magnanimous gift of love that Christ offers us each time we receive his body and blood.

“God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

Let’s ask the Sacred Heart of Jesus to help us accept his invitation to a more intimate communion with him through more frequent, and more fervent, reception of his gift-of-self in the Holy Eucharist. †

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