Imagine a multi-faceted crystal, each tiny surface iridescent as it catches and reflects the light. Imagine the whole, brilliant and glowing, shimmering with new colours, whichever way we view it. That is an attempt at describing the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the most multi-faceted Heart imaginable; at once loving, open, tender, compassionate, wounded, welcoming, pierced, humble, generous, merciful, free… This is a Heart which burns with passionate love whilst also beating quietly with gentleness and fidelity, but which is always, totally, unlimited Love, open to ALL.
The readings and especially the Gospels for the Feast present us with three distinct facets, which, individually or taken together, are full of riches. In Year A, Jesus invites us to come to Him, to learn from His gentle and humble Heart (Matt 11:25-30). Here, the Heart of Jesus is a place of refuge and welcome, a shelter, a safe place, a place of peace where every burden is laid down, every fear put to rest. But here, vitally, we are invited to enter into the dispositions of His Heart: to learn from Jesus’ attitudes and ways of relating; to discover His Heart, wholly given to God and to all people, and to make those dispositions our own.
In year B we have the piercing of Jesus’ Heart (Jn 19: 31-37), an event where malevolence meets goodness, sin meets love. And on face value, sin definitely wins. Love is powerless, sin is powerful; love is defenceless, vulnerable, open to attack; sin is armed and dangerous. Love is a spent force, sin is triumphant.
And yet… through that act of gratuitous cruelty Jesus’ Heart is opened, never to close, releasing a torrent of superabundant, redemptive love, a wellspring that will never dry up. God’s generous, self-giving love pours forth from a Heart wounded by sin – wounded but not overcome. Here we have hatred somehow lost in the mighty flow of the love it has unwittingly unleashed. Love, seemingly powerless, has, in its very powerlessness, conquered sin. And it is here, in the pierced and wounded Heart of Jesus, that we find our salvation and the sureness for our hope; here too, crucially, where we can bring our own broken, wounded hearts for healing and restoration.
And this year (C) we reflect on the tenderness and watchful care of the Good Shepherd (Lk 15: 3-7), who knows each one intimately and rejoices to bring us home, into His Heart. Lovingly, the Shepherd reaches out to the weakest and most vulnerable, the unwanted and unloved, those suffering any form of rejection; and, especially, those who believe they have strayed beyond the bounds of God’s love. All are brought home, into that wide-open Heart, where there is space enough for everyone.
All this and more is in the Sacred Heart we especially celebrate this month: a Heart that is always open, always inviting, and always pouring forth a love that is totally boundless, tender and true.
Sr Silvana Dallanegra RSCJ
Religious of the Sacred Heart/member of the Society of the Sacred Heart
Lives in Oxford, where she runs a student hostel community
Blogger – www.allthislifeandheaventoo.blogspot.co.uk
This reflection is reproduced by permission of Magnificat: http://www.magnificat.com/english/index_uk.asp