The Sacred Heart of Jesus
by Mons. Ignaçio Barreiro Carambula
In this beautiful and powerful feast we remember the infinite love of Jesus for us. This is a love that leads to His incarnation and to His redemptive passion and death for us in the Cross. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate God, is the best possible manifestation of the love of God. Jesus reminds us that God loves us with a heart that is both human and divine. Pope Leo XIII said “There is in the Sacred Heart the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return.” A manifestation of God’s love that is really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. In this Sacrament we adore, receive, and we are nourished by the glorified body, the blood, the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ and it gives us the possibility of being transformed into Him and sharers of His infinite charity.
The first point I would like to make that we should not treat our adoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a simple optional devotion. Here what we have is a development of dogma. We have here a way of understanding the infinite love of Christ that has a serious doctrinal weight. We have the truth of the infinite sacrificial love of Jesus that was revealed to us in Scripture but this truth has been better understood under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost through the study of holy theologians and the motion of private revelations. The Holy Ghost has acted on the basis of the magnificent prayer of St. Paul in the Letter of the Ephesians where he requests that we should be able to comprehend what is the breadth and the length, and the height and depth of the charity of Christ, a love that is constantly embracing the whole created universe. So we are not acting on the basis of private revelations we are acting under the guidance of the infallible magisterium of the Church which has put the seal of approval of the Vicar of Christ on many occasion in the last centuries to the study of great theologians and on private revelations.
The heart of the Gospel message is God’s love for sinners. We always have to remember that the main historical purpose of the incarnation of Christ is our salvation. St. John writes in his Gospel “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.” (John 3,16). We should always encourage adoration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which reminds sinners of God’s never failing personal love for them. At the same time knowing the pain that sin inflicts to Jesus Christ we should make all possible efforts to avoid it with the never failing assistance of His grace.
In our adoration to the Sacred Heart we are reminded that regrettably many times this burning love of Jesus is rejected in many occasions by mankind. That is why in His image His burning heart is surrounded by a Crown of Thorns. In the lives of many saints of the last centuries we have a powerful witness of this mysterious and constant suffering that will last until the end of the world. I can mention examples from the writings of St. Padre Pio, of St. Gema Galgani and St. Faustina Kowalka. I say mysterious because it is difficult to understand how Christ is enjoying the beatitude of Heaven and at the same time suffering for us. We have to atone for this rejection, but the best reparation is by making all possible efforts to convince the ones that the Lord has placed close to us to accept His saving love.
The Heart of Jesus is especially moved by those who suffer in any way — be it mentally, physically or spiritually. All of us suffer from different and difficult crosses, but we believe that when we offer our suffering — in union with Christ’s suffering on the cross — our suffering, as members of the mystical body of Christ, can help to atone for our own sins, for the sins of others and to offer reparation to the suffering Christ for all the times His love is rejected. St. Paul writes “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…” (Colossians 1, 24). Here we should remember that in itself the Cross of Christ was more than sufficient to redeem us, but in His infinite wisdom He decided to make us His co-redeemers to make us participate through our efforts in the Redemption of all mankind.
Why some are burdened with heavier crosses than others is a mystery, a mystery that probably will be explained to us in Heaven. A mystery explained to some extent in his great work on Evil by St. Thomas Aquinas. The great Carmelite Nun St. Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi said: “You will be consoled according to the greatness of your sorrow and affliction; the greater the suffering, the greater will be the reward.” Christ promises consolation to those who bear difficult crosses when he says “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
It is ultimately in the Sacred Heart of Jesus that we find comfort and the love we seek. The Heart of Jesus burns with love for each and every one of us. Our worship to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can take many forms such like displaying and honoring an image of the Sacred Heart in our homes, as we have decided to do it several years ago in this chapel, reciting the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or making an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart. We particularly recommend the First Friday devotion which many of you practice in a very faithful way. In 1674, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and He promised to her:
“In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.”
Our Lord also promised to give priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts. But this promise when can say that also applies to all you who work faithfully in the apostolate of the Church, in particular in many apostolates that certainly are close to His Heart like the pro-life apostolate, or in the educational apostolate and last but not least, in the Liturgical Apostolate to make the Liturgy of the Church worthy of the Lord to whom were are offering our adoration. The worship of the Sacred Heart will help us speak the truth with love to sinners who feel far from God, and from his Church and will help us to gently lead them back to the Good Shepherd, who is meek and humble of heart. (Matthew 11, 29)
We finish our prayer asking with total confidence that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary we may know better and love more the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.