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In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life

Homily for the Feast of the Sacred Heart

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily on the Feast of the Sacred Heart on June 8, 2018.

"In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbor."

These words of Pope St. John Paul II explain why we gather tonight to celebrate this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. We gather so that we might “know the genuine and unique meaning of our life and our destiny.” For in the pierced heart of the Crucified God, God’s own heart is opened up. Heaven is no longer locked up – for through the incarnation of his Word made flesh God has stepped out of his hiddenness. St. Augustine prayed: “O Lord, our hearts were made for thee, and our hearts shall never rest until they rest in thee. The Heart of Jesus speaks to our hearts beckoning: “Come to me, all you who are wearied and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Again, as Pope St. John Paul says: "In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny….

And he adds, in the Heart of Christ, we learn – our hearts learn – “to understand the value of an authentically Christian life.” to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbor."

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is not sweet, sugary, sentimental piety. Yes, the heart throughout human history has symbolized love – and too often love – human love - has been reduced to the sentimental inanities found on a Valentine Card and worse. But here, in speaking of the Sacred Heart, we are not talking about our discourse about love, but about the love of God revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. As St. John writes in his first epistle: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1Jn 4:10). In the pierced heart of the Crucified One, God’s love is laid bare for all to see. God is telling us that he loves us – not with a spoken word but a word carved out in the flesh of Jesus’ side by the soldier’s lance.

The author of the Book of Hebrews says, “When Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me: in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure’. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book’.” (Hebrews 10: 5-7). Love is not merely a sentiment. Love is not about feeling good; it is about doing good. Authentic Christian life is not about self-absorbed navel gazing; rather authentic Christian life engages us in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; authentic Christian life leads us to wash the feet of the brethren.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Zechariah mysteriously promised: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.” The image of the Sacred Heart is an invitation to each of us to look upon the Pierced One in an attitude of humble prayer – a prayer of contemplation and adoration.

For God speaks to us through the Sacred Heart of his Son: how much does he love us? The pierced heart is more than an eloquent answer.

Again, we read in the Book of Hebrews, “Christ is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” God does not only speak to us through the Sacred Heart; we in turn can speak to God through that same Sacred Heart. And what more could we say to God that Jesus has not said for us?

God speaks to us; we speak to God – all through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And nurtured by this dialog of love – from God to us, from us to God – a dialog centered in the Heart of Jesus, we also speak to the world – a world of conflict, of pain, of suspicions and fear. And we can speak to the world a word about God also centered in the Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced in death, becomes a word of life for the world. Like St. Paul, “impelled by the charity of Christ” (cf II Cor 5: 14) may we share with the world a message of hope, that of the pierced heart revealing the love of the Father and “drawing all things to himself” (cf. Jn 12: 32).

The Sacred Heart is the Heart of God laid bare for mankind; it is a human heart lifted high on the Cross; it is the heart of the Church open to all who seek, to all who thirst, to every lost sheep waiting to be found and carried home.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the full and irrevocable message of the Father to us. It is everything we ever could or should need to say to the Father. It is all we have to say to one another and to the world.

St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have asked that this feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be also dedicated as a day of prayer for the sanctification of priests. St. John Vianney once said: “The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.” John Vianney served the Lord with a single-heartedness that all priests should strive to emulate. His rule of life was “Do only what can be offered to the Lord.” As we celebrate here in this local Church, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Miami, let also us resolve to support our priests by our prayers. May all that they say, do or think be a worthy offering to the Lord.

“Oh, Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, al cual es imposible no sentir compasión por los infelices, ten piedad de nosotros pobres pecadores y concédenos las gracias que pedimos por medio del inmaculado, Corazón de María, tu y nuestra tierna Madre”.

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