27th June. The Sacred Heart of Jesus
1) Deuteronomy 7:6-11
(God is faithful to his chosen people, who are dear to his heart.)
You are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you – for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. Therefore, observe diligently the commandment – the statutes, and the ordinances – that I am commanding you today.
2) 1 John 7:4-16
(Our God has poured his love into us, through his Son and the Holy Spirit.)
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.
Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30
(To know Jesus is our sure way to know and love our gracious Father.)
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.”
My yoke is sweet and my burden is light
The Feast of the Sacred Heart appeared relatively late in the Church’s calendar. The proper object of this celebration is the love of Jesus for each of us as symbolized in his heart of flesh. The essence of the mystery which it celebrates is the merciful love of Christ, a love he offers to all who come to him with faith and the willingness to obey his teaching. That he loves us in this way was revealed already in the lifetime of Jesus. But it required many centuries before this revelation of divine love for sinners was associated with the heart of our Lord and made the object of a special veneration in the liturgy and in various devotions that have had a wide and continuing appeal to devoted faithful.
We have his own word for the fact that our Lord’s love for us is a sweet yoke and a light burden. In our better moments, especially when we succeed in putting into practice some particular act requiring self-denial in the interest of service to another or in resisting temptation against God’s law, we experience the joy that does indeed make the yoke sweet. But we do not have to live too long before we find that fidelity to God can weigh heavily upon us. At times it seems impossible to practice forgiveness from the heart, especially when we feel betrayed by one we have trusted. The burden can feel very heavy when we are subjected day after day to petty annoyances, insensitivity, lack of appreciation. It requires no great exercise of imagination to draw up a lengthy list of situations in which we feel anything but the lightness and sweetness of love as we strive to implement the Lord’s commandments.
People must not give up on themselves, just because of weakness and sin. On the contrary, when Jesus spoke these words he prefaced them with an invitation precisely to those who experience the weight of oppression and the burdensome trials of life, including the ingratitude of people for whom we have sacrificed our self. Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. He does not say he will remove the burden or free us from labor; rather he promises a rest and a sweetness that can be known only by transcending the sufferings and anxieties and trials that we meet with day by day. We must come to terms with them, and while absorbing their impact pass beyond a mind-set that ties us down to the limited horizons of our immediate surroundings. The love of Christ beckons us to take this step into a higher and nobler world where his love gives meaning to our struggles and sufferings. Perseverance in our search is the way to discover the truth of his words. If we suffer with him then we shall also rise with him. Unless we remain faithful in times of stress and trial, we shall be unable to taste and see that the Lord is good to us.