"His Passion Reveals His Love"

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
June 27th, 2014
Year A

Up to this point in our celebration of the Sacred Heart we have taken note of how Heart of Jesus beckons the heart of man out of the mentality of individualism and invites us to divine communion. It is as noted by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a “spirituality of the senses” that reaches into the depths of man’s being in order to lift him up to heaven. The Heart of Jesus draws each of us, together, into relationship with God – a relationship that is at one and the same time spiritual/theological and altogether human. At its core is the celebration of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is our principle of unity and communion. Our truest identity, who are before God and one another, has its source in the Eucharist because it is from this fount that He shows us His heart.

There is yet another important dimension to the Sacred Heart. As Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary when He revealed His Heart to her: “My heart, loving passionately mankind, can no longer contain the flames of its charity; it is necessary for it to manifest itself to them, in order to enrich them with the treasures it contains.” The heart, in the language of the Bible, is the center of a person’s thought, feeling and action. Here, Jesus shows St. Margaret Mary that it is from the very depths of His being that He loves. Love defines the Son of God, as St. John notes in the second reading: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us… God is love.” His passion reveals His love. A love that is at one and the same time human and divine. Pope Pius XII makes note of that in the Encyclical, quoting St. Basil the Great, the Holy Father wrote:

“St. Basil, the first of the three Cappadocian Fathers declares that the feelings of the senses in Christ were at once true and holy: "It is clear that the Lord did indeed put on natural affections as a proof of His real and not imaginary Incarnation, and that He rejected as unworthy of the Godhead those corrupt affections which defile the purity of our life… However, it must be noted that although these selected passages from Scripture and the Fathers and many similar ones that We have not cited give clear testimony that Jesus Christ was endowed with affections and sense perceptions, and hence that He assumed human nature in order to work for our eternal salvation, yet they never refer those affections to His physical heart in such a way as to point to it clearly as the symbol of His infinite love” (HA, n. 46 & 52).

To speak of the passions of Jesus, two things are naturally meant. In the first place, His passion is His capacity to love as a human being – His ability to laugh, to cry, to feel joy and sadness, to feel pain, to suffer and to die. In the second place, to speak of the Passion of Jesus is to speak exclusively of His suffering, death, and resurrection. Yet the two are not to be separated. For that infinite, divine love is made known in the beating, throbbing, suffering and pierced heart of Jesus. To love means to give oneself wholly and completely over to another – whatever the cost. A lover suffers because he loves. This is what the passions of Jesus reveal, a bleeding, suffering, pierced Heart that desires our love.

This is what is meant by a spirituality of the heart. It is incorporates the senses, all feeling and emotion. It is a love that is “Incarnational” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us, because it is “a spirituality of the passions” (Behold the Pierced One, B16, 60). It is from this pierced heart that we must draw water. From it we draw our life. Even our limitations, our shortcomings, our sins and vices must lead us to the Heart of Jesus. His divine Heart calls out to ours hearts – hearts that desire communion with Him, that long to drink of His love – and invites us to step out, abandon our self-will, our certainties, to trust Him and make ourselves a gift to Him (B16).
It is really not meant to be complicated. For example, yesterday I watched as Sr. Emmanuel and Sr. Jennifer planted some flowers outside the chapel. They were engaged in a simple task – gardening, planting, and watering. These are very simple tasks, yet for the moment, it was all about those flowers. They were giving their all to beautifying the grounds outside the chapel so that home of our Lord, this house of prayer may be adorned and made beautiful to the eye. Yet to me, He didn’t need flowers because He has their hearts. And this is the one thing that Jesus asks of us – our hearts. For our hearts must be fully engaged in our lives as Christians. If our hearts are not in it then it becomes a religion that merely observed and lived. In his homily on Palm Sunday Pope Francis asked a simple question: “where is your heart?” He wants our hearts. He wants the whole of our being. He desires us to live and to love in Him and through Him. We can no longer neglect the ways in which our hearts speak to us, because often, in the depths of our hearts, it is the voice of the Savior communicating His love to us.

In this Eucharistic Sacrifice, and every time we come to Mass, where the beating, throbbing, suffering Heart of Jesus is revealed to us, may we not shrink from the opportunity to offer Him our own hearts, to give him the totality of our whole being as a humble gift and simple act of love.



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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