Friday, 19 June 2020 : Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating the love of God pouring forth out from His most loving Heart, as He has revealed to His servants, namely St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and earlier on through influences on mystic saints such as St. Gertrude the Great. Ultimately, the long development of the revelations led to the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as we are familiar with today.

The Lord appeared in visions to early visionaries such as St. Gertrude the Great, St. Lutgarde and St. Mechtilde, speaking of the love from His loving Heart for mankind, and calling on all to love Him more and to dedicate themselves to His loving Heart, which He dedicated to all peoples as a show of His love, the Heart filled with great love for each and every one of us, a Heart that is so loving and gentle towards us, as a symbol of His eternal and enduring love for us all.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received the most significant series of visions of the Lord and His Most Sacred Heart, as He told the devout servant about the Devotion to His Most Sacred Heart, by the dedication of the first Fridays of every month to the reception of the Holy Eucharist and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and then also Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Hours dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Through these visions, gradually, the devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which had begun earlier in the past centuries rapidly gained popularity and adoption by many in the Church.

The Lord in His appearances to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque also showed His heart and the anguish and sorrow which He had for the sins and disobedience which we had shown to Him despite the vastness of love, compassion and mercy that He has lavished upon us. The Lord said that, “Behold the Heart that has loved so many men, and yet, instead of gratitude, all I received were ingratitude…” and asking in particular that the Friday after the week in which the Solemnity of Corpus Christi is celebrated be dedicated to Him as the Feast of Reparation to the Most Sacred Heart.

That is why today we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, continuing a long standing tradition and practice of the Church celebrating the mystery of the Sacred Heart since the fourteenth century. And as the devotion spread rapidly, eventually, the Blessed Pope Pius IX extended and placed this great Feast and Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in its current form and honour. And the Lord also promised to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that all those who devoted themselves to His Most Sacred Heart with faith will be protected and receive the graces of God.

Now then, as we dedicate ourselves anew to the Lord in His Most Sacred Heart today, let us all then spend some time to reflect on just how fortunate we have been to be beloved by God, and just how wonderful is His love for each and every one of us, keeping in mind what He Himself had said when He appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, that though He has loved us all so dearly, yet what He received was not gratitude, but rather immense ingratitude and lack of faith from so many of us.

This is what we all need to focus on today, and look through our lives, our actions in life thus far and see where we may have fallen short of what we ought to have done, that is to love the same God Who has loved us so much with the same love, with the same energy and enthusiasm, with the same strength and commitment. In our first reading today taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, all of us heard of the Covenant that God had established with His people after He brought them out by mighty deeds from the land of Egypt, and how He has cared for them and provided for them, as a people consecrated to Him in holiness.

And yet, those people who have been so blessed to be chosen by God did not appreciate or be grateful at how fortunate they had been to have been such blessed by God. Instead, they chose to disobey Him, committing all sorts of evil, even right from the moment when He had just established His Covenant with them, as they erected a golden calf and made it god over them in opposition to God. And there were many other occasions throughout the history of the Israelites that they had certainly brought the Lord to much sorrow, grief and anger at their disobedience and stubbornness.

And yet, the Lord still chose to love them and to give them opportunities, one after another, sending many prophets again and again to them to help them and to lead them to Himself, that they might repent from their sins and turn away from their disobedience. Last of all, as the fulfilment of what He has revealed through His prophets, He sent His very own Begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of all His people. How did He do that? By offering Himself as the perfect sacrificial offering on the Cross, that by sharing in His own shed Body and outpoured Blood, all of us who shared in Him, we have the promise of everlasting life with us.

That is why we celebrate this great Solemnity just within the week after the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord, as instructed by the Lord Himself, clearly as an important reminder that we have the loving Heart of our Lord, filled with His love that is so great and wonderful, so great a love that He has willingly offered Himself and sacrificed His own life, Body and shed His own Blood, suffering the most bitter of sufferings and persecutions for our sake.

It was for the great love of God that we have been blessed to know this love through Christ, as highlighted by St. John in his Epistle which is our second reading today. God has manifested His love for us through His Son, and by His actions and most loving and perfectly selfless sacrifice, He has showed us that He is Love Himself, and that all of us who are His people and adopted children, must also therefore be filled with the same love. We are all called to look at the Lord and remember His love, and be loving just as He has loved us.

Are we capable of doing that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Certainly we are capable of showing love just as the Lord has shown His love towards us. In each and every one of us, God has shown the potential to love, and sown the seeds of love within us, by the Holy Spirit Whom all of us have received through baptism, and which has been strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation. All of us are creatures of love, and the question is not whether we are capable of showing love, but rather if we want to show this love, to God and to our fellow brethren.

Today we also mark the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctity of Priestly Life, keeping in mind all those who have been called to model themselves after the Lord’s examples, especially His love for each and every one of us. To those who have given themselves to the ministry of the ordained priesthood, we pray for them all, that they truly may model themselves and their own hearts after that of the Lord’s own Most Sacred Heart, filled with love for all mankind.

We need to recognise that to be priests is a very difficult undertaking for those who have chosen to answer the Lord’s call and dedicate their lives. They are also humans just like us, with their flaws and imperfections, but they are at the same time held up to a much higher expectation and standard, being those who have been entrusted with the care and guardianship over the people of God. But then they also faced a lot of difficulties and challenges, as well as daily temptations and pressures from various origins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why all of us need to support our priests and all those who have dedicated themselves to this holy and sacred calling in life. And we can do that by living with faith ourselves and devoting ourselves to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, showing the same love that He has shown us, in our actions and interactions with one another. Let us all model ourselves after the Lord’s heart, that our own heart be filled with love, and love graciously and tenderly as the Lord Himself has shown us.

May the Lord continue to be our guide, strengthen us in faith and love us all the time, that we may draw ever closer to the love of God made evident to us through His Most Sacred Heart. O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we entrust ourselves to You, and we beseech You to show Your ever enduring love and compassion, mercifully forgiving us our sins and reconciling us to Yourself, that we may indeed have our rest in You, we who are weary and heavily burdened, that through You, we may truly be free. Amen.

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