Today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, but it is a little odd that the word ‘God’ is used twenty two times in the first two readings for mass. Jesus said the word ‘Father’ five times. But, even though today is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Jesus’s name is only mentioned once in the readings for mass today. It makes you wonder why these readings in particular were chosen for a Solemnity that honors Jesus Christ?
Once you get past these superficial, or surface aspects of today’s readings for mass, you begin to experience what the readings are trying to convey, and that in itself is something to pay attention to. Sometimes our mind gets in the way of our heart. A cold heart often comes from an analytical mind.
We crave the warmth of love, friendship and companionship. Human beings spend almost all of their efforts in life either trying to receive love, or to give love. We struggle so hard to win other people’s approval sometimes, just so they will love us.
As children many of us struggled to get better grades in school so our parents would be proud of us, or else we practiced long hours in sports, or music, or other extra curricular activities, because it helped our self esteem, or it caused other people to show us a lot of positive attention. Sometimes children struggle so hard to win their parents approval though, that they start thinking they will never be good enough to earn their parent’s love. They keep letting their parents down, so children sometimes think they have to be perfect in order for their parents to love them.
Women do the same thing. Almost all women are overly conscious of their figure, hair, makeup clothes, nails, etc. Even then, with a lot of work, money, effort and even multiple cosmetic surgeries sometimes, they still feel unattractive. There is always something else they need to ‘fix’ so they will look beautiful and men will find them attractive, or at the very least, both men and women will admire them, or treat them a little better. These things are an attempt to gain approval and love from other people. There’s not really anything wrong with trying to look nice, but when it comes to dating, it is better if the person you are dating comes to love you, not just your looks. Looks wear off after a while, but genuine love doesn’t.
Men often like to be physically fit, have a good job, make a good living and maybe drive a nice car, or own a nicer than usual home. Success on the job means women will be attracted to them, if they are single. For married men, success at work means that other people, including their family, will respect them more and look up to them. If they make more money, it will make their wife happy, or they can provide nice things for their wife and children. There’s not really anything wrong with doing these things, unless you lose your job, or become sick or disabled. Your entire self esteem may have revolved around your ability to make money. Many men become depressed after they retire, because their self worth was completely grounded in their job.
Jesus has a remedy for all of this in today’s gospel. He said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
How did you feel after you read his words just now? Did it make you want to take a deep breath and exhale slowly? And just let the stress melt away? Do these words feel healing, peaceful, restful?
There are a lot of people throughout the ages who have described the Sacred Heart of Jesus in very tender, beautiful words, that convey feelings that many of us have trouble expressing. But, is that genuine love? The words, the feelings, and the emotions we experience? If the soft sentimental feelings are difficult to express does that mean we do not really love Jesus, or love our spouse and children and family? We might want to reconsider what genuine love really is.
The definition of genuine love is to desire the ultimate good of another person.
It’s worth stopping for a moment to read these words again, because they are the absolute essence of love. The essence of genuine love, is to desire the ultimate good of another person. Jesus Christ is love incarnate. If you think about it, that is the essence of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His words are beautiful yes, but more important than his words are the feelings you sense in his words, that he desires your ultimate good.
Jesus is always on your side. He is your advocate and will defend you against all of Satan’s attacks, so long as you never leave his side. Jesus supports you, forgives you, cares for you. He will never judge you or condemn you. Even if others judge or condemn you, he never will. He suffered for you, so that you can live forever in absolute paradise – for all of eternity. He looks past all the superficial things in our lives and instinctively knows what we need the most. We can’t hide our heart from the Lord. We can fool everyone else, but we can’t fool him.
Jesus suffers when we suffer. He understands us, when no one else does. Jesus is there for us even when it feels like everyone else has abandoned us, just when we need them the most. But, Jesus never will. He is there in the dark when we have cried ourselves to sleep, or when we have been hurt, betrayed, or abused by someone and our heart was broken. When we are helpless, Jesus is not. He is strong, when we are not. Jesus is there, even when we are not. He doesn’t leave, even though we leave him sometimes.
Jesus comforts us at Mass, through his words. He comforts us in communion, like a drink of cold water on a hot summer day. We thirst for him. Our souls seek rest in him. He is an oasis of peace and healing. A peace and a healing balm for our souls that no one, and nothing else, can ever completely satisfy.
Jesus wants our ultimate good. He wants to travel through life with us, every step of the way. Not a single moment passes in our lives that he is not right there with us. As close as the air we breathe. He gave himself to us in the Eucharist because he does not want us to ever feel alone. He said he would not leave us orphans, just because he went to heaven. He is the bread that came down from heaven to be with us, every time he comes to us in the Mass. And we do not need to do a single thing to earn his love. He already loves us. The struggle for love is over, because Jesus’s constant presence, companionship, support and love remains with us in a tangible way, through the Eucharist. We carry the Lord with us, every where we go.
To rest your heart in his heart, is a safe haven. A place of refuge and refreshment, no matter where we happen to be throughout our day. Jesus’s love for us is alive within us, and when we open our heart to Jesus, his love will spill out into the world around us.
Daily Mass Readings:
Deuteronomy 7: 6-11 / Psalm 103 / 1 John 4: 7-16 / Matthew 11:25-30