Dear Sisters, Fathers, and Friends
The opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference. Isn’t it crushing to us when we sense that somebody ignored us, or doesn’t care about us? Some of you who work with the elderly could probably share a number of stories of how the elderly suffer when they feel forgotten by their loved ones. I think this also affects many young people as well. Facebook, texting, and social media can create a world of indifference.
The Gospel today has a good description of the feelings in God’s heart. God cares for each person individually. This solemnity has two aspects: gratefulness and reparation. We are grateful to God for the love He shows us and we want and need to make reparation because our response to His love is often so poor. God does not ever forget us, but we often forget him.
This heart of Our Lord’s is a human and a divine heart. He loves us with Heart which is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, and his pouring out of love on the cross. Our Lord calls us too to love with our heart–to love Him and all those around us with the same heart.
Saint Francis de Sales describes our Lord’s Heart very clearly:
“What will we do, dear souls, what will we become, I ask you, when through the Sacred Wound of His side we perceive that most adorable and most lovable Heart of our Master, aflame with love for
us — that Heart where we will see each of our names written in letters of love! “Is it possible, O my dear Savior,” we will say, “that You have loved me so much that You have engraved my name in Your Heart?” It is indeed true. The Prophet, speaking in the name of Our Lord, says to us: “Even if it should happen that a mother forget the child she carried in her womb, I will never forget you, for I have engraved your name in the palms of my hand.” [Is. 49:15-16]. But Jesus Christ, enlarging on these words, will say: “Even if it were possible for a woman to forget her child, yet I will never forget you, since I bear your name engraved in My Heart.”
Surely, it will be a subject of very great consolation that we should be so dearly loved by Our Lord that He always bears us in His Heart…”
God does not ever forget about us, and knowing this, we are drawn to try to make amends–our hearts suffer knowing we have ignored this heart who loves us so much. This is where our spirit of reparation is. The Sacred Heart is still alive and beating (cf. Hauerietis Aquas, 22) for us and this can be seen in history.
When our Lord appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque on June 17, 1689, he commanded the king of France to consecrate France to His Sacred Heart, but King Louis XIV did not do this. 100 years later, on June 17, 1789, King Louis XVI was stripped of his legislative authority and the French Revolution began. The horror of the French Revolution lasted until July 28, 1794. Only a few days before, on July 17, 16 Carmelite Nuns went to the guillotine for refusing to follow the civil constitution, which demanded the closing of their monastery. They offered their lives as a sacrifice for the Church.
We must look at this as a call to allow our lives to be truly centered on the Sacred Heart of Jesus–to allow ourselves to be immersed in His Love and to make amends for the times we treat Him coldly. Some may scoff and say this is simply another pious devotion, but I think it is helpful to consider the words of Pius XII, who wrote in his Encyclical on the Sacred Heart:
“Who would be so bold as to call that devotion useless and inappropriate to our age which Our predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII, declared to be “the most acceptable form of piety?” He had no doubt that in it there was a powerful remedy for the healing of those very evils which today also, and beyond question in a wider and more serious way, bring distress and disquiet to individuals and to the whole human race.” -Pius XII, Encylical On Devotion to the Sacred Heart (Hauerietis Aquas), 14.
Indeed, the Sacred Heart is the healing balm we need in an age which is trying so hard to live based on cold scientific reality void of any moral grounding. We see coldness of indifference about which Pope Francis speaks quite often. Does this not affect each of us to some degree? This coldness of heart is burned up in the furnace of the Sacred Heart as we go about our lives and struggle to become saints. Our Lord encouraged the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially on the First Friday of every month. Providentially, that is today. He promised to those who make this devotion: “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.” Going to confession and Holy Mass–what a powerful way to show gratitude and offer reparation.
Our Lord is calling us to His heart because He wants us to be with Him in Heaven for all eternity. Yet, we have the free choice to reject this offer of Love. When we sin, we experience the bitterness and the gall that leads to death. When we return to our Lord we experience a Heart that is like a burning furnace of Love. Obviously we want to experience that for eternity!!
“…Let us walk happily and joyously, dear souls, among the difficulties of this passing life; let us embrace with open arms all the mortifications and afflictions that we will meet on our way, since we are sure that these pains will have an end when our life ends, after which there will be only joy, only contentment, only eternal consolation.”
(Saint Francis de Sales, Sermon of the Second Sunday of Lent)
Let us ask our Blessed Mother to fan away the ash of indifference in our hearts. Then the fire of our Lord’s Sacred Heart will fill us with the fire of His love.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.