Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the great occasion of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, we focus on the most loving Heart of Our Lord, Who has given everything for our sake, the Lord Jesus, Who even did not hold back from suffering for our sake, and dying on the cross for our salvation.
This Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus had its roots from the long-established and traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart, which began hundreds of years ago, as popular devotion to the love which God had shown us, and which the Lord showed His servant, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in a vision of His Most Sacred Heart, crowned with thorns and pierced, with a burning flame above the Heart, as a sign of His ever-burning and living love for each and every one of us.
This devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the oldest existing devotions in the Church, and one that all of us should be appreciative about, as it brings us to remember about the great love which God has shown to us, in His generous and rich mercy. The Church has decided to celebrate this Solemnity with great devotion, in order to benefit all of us on the way to our salvation in God.
First of all, we have to realise just how great the love which God has for each and every one of us, from the holiest of persons to the greatest among the sinners. To everyone, to all the children of men, God has shown His love, as personified in none other than the Lord Jesus Himself, the Love of God made Man, as St. John wrote in his Gospel, that God so loved the world, that He sent to the world and to us, His own Beloved Son.
And just as we often represent love with a heart, as the heart, is the source of our life, through the beating heart that is a sign of life, and also of emotions, because our heartbeat increases when we are feeling happy, intense, or in love, then, God’s love is represented in the same way, as the loving Heart of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is how the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus gained its place in our faith.
And symbolically, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, we heard about another important event involving the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord. It was during His crucifixion, right after He gave up His Spirit and died. As the chief priests and elders did not want the bodies to remain on the cross throughout the Sabbath, the Roman soldiers were instructed by their superior to ensure that the thieves and the Lord Jesus were dead.
Hence, they broke the bones of the legs of the thieves, an act which through our scientific research discovered that this could cause immediate death or very quick death to those criminals who has been left to hang on the crosses for hours. But at that time, the Lord Jesus was already dead, and many of the people who were there, including the soldiers witnessed His passing.
Nonetheless, in order to ensure that the Lord Jesus was truly dead, the Roman soldier, which by tradition was known as St. Longinus, pierced the side of the Lord with his lance, and immediately came pouring out blood and water from the Lord’s side. One would wonder why the Roman soldier pierced the side of the Lord to ensure that He was dead, if the heart is not even located at that part of the body.
That is because a Roman soldier like St. Longinus was very well-trained in numerous arts of warfare, and he must have been well-trained to hit the critical parts of the body, including the heart, from various places including from a person’s side. And when a person died, it has been determined by experience that if a person’s heart is pierced, there would be water accumulating in the spaces surrounding the heart, and hence, water and blood will come pouring out.
But the symbolism of the blood and water that came out from the side of the Lord Jesus was much greater than all of that. At every time the Holy Mass is celebrated, the priest mixes the wine with a little bit of water into the sacred chalice, and the material for the Precious Blood of the Lord was prepared. Both water and wine must be present, so as to make the whole process and Sacrament to be valid.
This is because the wine, usually red wine, with the colour of blood represents the Divinity of Christ, while the water represents His humanity, which are mingled together yet separate, distinct yet united, at the moment when the Lord offered Himself as the perfect Sacrifice on the Altar of the cross at Calvary, offering Himself as the perfect oblation for all of our sins.
The blood and water, symbolically represented by the wine and the water at the Mass, therefore shows us the salvation of God, brought forth by the giving of His life, the outpouring of His Body and Blood, given to us and shared with us, that all of us who partake in His Body and Blood, will have eternal life and share in the joy and glory of God forevermore.
That is just how much the Lord has loved us, and therefore, we ought to love Him just in the same manner. And that is why we devote ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, because ultimately, we believe that despite our shortcomings and sins, God has shown us His love, and He is willing to forgive us, provided that we are also willing to repent from our sins and turn wholeheartedly towards Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore deepen our devotion to the Lord, especially today, in His Most Sacred Heart. Let us draw ever closer to Him, and be filled with resolve to love God with a renewed vigour and faith. And let us also show the same love to our fellow men, as He has taught us to do. May the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord continue to pour His love upon us, and give us His generous mercy as always. Amen.