LOVE WITH THE HEART OF JESUS
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Dt 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Matthew 11:25-30 ]
The center of a person is the heart. It is where the person is motivated by all that he does. It is where life and love originate. So, in our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we want to contemplate on His mind, heart, will, and desire for humanity and above all, His love for His Father. This is why this feast is a continuity of the feasts of Pentecost, Holy Trinity, the Body and Blood of Christ. All these feasts contemplate on the love of God, whether in the Holy Spirit, or the inner life of the Holy Trinity or in the giving of Christ’s body and blood. The feast of the Sacred Heart brings together these different dimensions of the love of God in Christ.
God’s love has already been expressed in many ways in the Old Testament. God had created us in love to share in His image and likeness. After the fall of our first parents, He continued to draw us to Him, from Abraham to Moses. Moses said to the people: “You are a people consecrated to the Lord your God; it is you that the Lord our God has chosen to be his very own people out of all the peoples on the earth. If the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, it was not because you outnumbered other peoples: you were the least of all peoples. It was for love of you and to keep the oath he swore to your fathers that the Lord brought you out with his mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Such is the love of God for us, choosing us in spite of our nothingness. When the people continued to sin against Him, He sent the prophets to call them to repentance. When they repented, God relented.
When we look at our lives, we too have been blessed in so many ways. We are humbled by the love of God for us. In spite of His blessings, we too have been ungrateful, again and again, like the Israelites. We take His love for granted. We are ungrateful and often forget to thank Him or return the love and blessings we have received from Him. We do not make Him the center of our lives. We continue to chase after false gods of wealth, status and fame. We allow ourselves to be tempted to a life of sensuality and pleasure. We have betrayed Him again and again. Yet He never stops loving us. This is how the Lord loves us.
God’s love has no limits. He is not contented simply to bless us with His gifts. He wants to be with us in our struggles and journey in life. Hence, He took flesh in our Lord Jesus. In Jesus, God assumed our humanity. He stripped Himself of His divinity, assumed our humanity, carried our sins in His body, and stripped Himself of all that enslaves us so that we can “put on His divinity” by sharing in His Divine Life. He came in the form of a servant and a slave. He came to show us God’s love and mercy, His forgiveness and compassion for the outcasts, sinners, and rejected. He came to heal us of our sicknesses and brokenness.
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus is the expression of the Father’s love. He comes to hold us in His arms, especially those who are abandoned and injured. He comes to bring us back when we are lost. He is the One who will come looking for us, and wait for us to come back to Him like the Prodigal Father. And when we are back, no questions are asked except that we are restored to our sonship. His love for us is boundless and He holds nothing back from loving us. The gospel tells us that He loves His own until the end. (Jn 13:1) Even when Judas betrayed Him, He never gave up on him until the last moment, seeking to draw Him back by His love by giving him the piece of bread. And when Peter denied Him and was in despair and shame, the Lord helped him to recover his senses and gave him back his dignity. He reinstated Peter’s authority for mission (Jn 21:15-19) which He had given him earlier, namely, to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven and to strengthen his brothers once he had recovered from his fall. (Lk 22:32)
In the light of Christ’s love for us, we must ask ourselves where is the focus of our heart? Is it directed towards God and His people as well? Perhaps, we might think so because we are involved in so many activities in Church and in voluntary organizations. We are involved in catechesis, liturgy, administration and organizing events. But in all these events, are we acting like the Good Shepherd, or do we carry out these activities without a heart of love and service? Quite often, when performing such religious duties and other services, many of us do them more out of obligation, routine, and in a perfunctory manner. This explains why we often lack compassion, sensitivity, and charity in getting things done. We conduct ourselves the way the corporate, commercial or government organizations do, out of duty but not out of genuine love and service.
Hence, our prayer today must be, “O Sacred Heart of Jesus, make our hearts like unto thine!” How can this happen unless we come to Jesus and turn our hearts to Him? We must make time to come to know the heart and mind of our Lord. “God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.” But such love of God cannot be just mere words. His love must be felt and experienced. Otherwise, this love is still abstract. God’s love is always concrete, as seen in the sacrifice of His Only Son. St John wrote, “Let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.” (1 Jn 4:7f)
So what is preventing us from experiencing His unconditional love so that we can love like Him? It is our pride. We can experience love only when we are humble. Proud people do not want to receive love as a gift. They want to show that they are independent and self-sufficient. They do not want to be receivers because it means that they are not as good. They want to be the top. They do not mind giving to others but they are too proud to be at the receiving end. When we do not receive love, when we do not allow people to love us, then we prevent the love of God from entering into our hearts. Indeed, intellectual pride, hardening of hearts, not wanting to be vulnerable, wanting to be in control, to be on top of situations and people, make us lonely people. Because we do not want to be hurt, we play safe. Those who cannot be vulnerable will never know what love is. This is why the Lord said to us, “”Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
So we must come to God like little children. Jesus exclaimed, “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.” We must approach God with the simplicity of children, waiting to be loved by Him and humble to receive His love, like dogs waiting for the master to feed them with food from his table. Dogs are always waiting for the master to love them, and to return that love with great exuberance. Our love must be like children, like dogs, waiting for Jesus to come into our hearts.
What better way to cultivate a personal relationship with Him in the simplicity of friendship and love, rather than through deep intellectual study, or profound reflection and insights. Basking in His love before the Eucharist in adoration is the best way to allow Jesus to love us. So what we need to do is to let Christ enter into our hearts and in our lives. When He enters into our hearts, we will experience His love and joy. And with this love flowing out of us, we are called to reach out to others in love. As we love our brothers and sisters genuinely with the heart of Jesus, we will also receive abundant love in return from them. We will encounter God’s love in our fellowmen when we serve and love them with the heart of Jesus. “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” (1 Jn 4:16)
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
Note: You may share this reflection with someone. However, please note that reflections are not archived online nor will they be available via email request.