Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


5th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
April 28th, 2013
Year C

A few years ago, I was invited to join some friends in celebrating their parents’ – John and Barbara’s – 50th wedding anniversary. I was one of three priests invited to the dinner celebration. At one point, I found myself sitting with the husband, John. He liked to tell stories. He went on about the old days at his parish and how Father So and So used to come over for dinner and coffee and for all of their Christmas parties. He was telling me about he and his wife’s involvement in the life of their parish and how proud they are to see their children doing the same and now their grandkids as well. All the while he was talking with me, never once did he ever say that it was his doing, never once did he forget to mention his wife. She had truly become his companion, his partner in life and in faith. I sat there with a smile on my face because here was a man who truly found himself, found his fulfillment in the person God had given to him – his wife, his bride.

The relationship Christ has to the Church is often described as a marriage – as a union of hearts. St. Paul uses this imagery in his letter to the Ephesians. We also find it in the Book of Revelation, from which we read today. This book tends to be one of the most difficult to read since it is filled with symbolic language that describe the visions of St. John. Such language should not be understood literally. Rather, it ought to be interpreted for our instruction and the building up of our faith. The imagery we hear of in this passage of bride and bridegroom elicits a similar interpretation.

What does it mean to speak of heaven using the image of husband and wife? Marriage is one of the biblical metaphors used to describe the covenant relationship between God and his people. Hence, idolatry and apostasy are viewed as adultery and harlotry. The key is to understand the nature of a covenant. In a covenant, there is an exchange of persons. There is no exchange of goods, no buying and selling; hence there is no contract. A covenant is sealed between persons; it is forged through relationships. This is precisely what is at the heart of the Sacrament of Marriage. Marriage is not a contract but rather a relationship of persons. Man and woman enter into a bond with each other in the complete, total and free gift of themselves to one another. There they discover their true selves, God is made known to them in this relationship and here there is made manifest an image of that heavenly reality where God will, quite literally, unite Himself to the His faithful people. This is why the image of marriage is so prominent in Sacred Scripture because in it we get a glimpse of heaven. It is also the reason why the Church speaks so highly of it as a sacrament.

We must remember too that this image has meaning and value for all the faithful, not just those who are married. For each of us in our assent to faith in Jesus Christ forms a personal relationship with Him. A covenant is made between Christ and ourselves. Christ, who has completely given of Himself to us – and continues to do so through the mystery of the Holy Eucharist – by way of His cross and resurrection, seeks for that reciprocal response. He seeks the response of the total gift of our selves to Him. Christ poured out His love for us and seeks our love for Him in return. In other words, He asks for our fidelity.

This is why marital fidelity is an important theme in the Book of Revelation. A faithful marriage is good and adultery is a serious sin. These themes have great significance for us as they pertain to our own faithfulness to the covenant we have made with God. These symbolic themes have meaning for our own spiritual wellbeing and in our faithfulness to God. Sins with regard to infidelity often manifest themselves by way of sexual immorality. We must not think that sins against sexuality only have an effect on just one person. These are also sins against God because essentially what we are doing is turning our backs on Him. By engaging in these sins we are unfaithful to the covenant we made with Him. The danger is their appeal and attractiveness. Yet, they can lead us to further distance ourselves from Him to the point of becoming attached, addicted and therefore refuse the grace of repentance.

What is the remedy? How do we receive the grace of having an experience of heaven and so be free from sin? The answer is simple and complex: frequent confession, prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and the reception of Holy Communion free from grave sin – that is the simple answer. The hard part is that it takes a bit of self-discipline and a lot of prayer. The remedy involves wanting to, desiring with all our hearts to live for Jesus and strive for holiness in our lives. We must set the bar high for our moral and spiritual lives. We must keep faithfulness to God as one of our top priorities in life. The challenge is not just hearing about it, not just agreeing with me, but to really go out and live it. Really and truly live for God. This is especially true for seniors leaving here and heading into the “real world.” This is where the rubber meets the road. It is time now to decide, it is time to start living our lives for God, striving for sanctity, trying to make the world a better – more peaceful place – and then truly begin to live as the men and women God has created us to be. But we can only do that if we remain faithful to the covenant we have made with Him, by giving of ourselves to God and trusting that He is on our side.









Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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