Hosea 11: 1 – 4, 8ac – 9
Responsorial Canticle: Isaiah 12
Ephesians 3. 8 – 12, 14 – 19
John 19. 31 – 37

Everyone knows that the heart is the centre of a person, the place from which one makes the choices which will affect the world within them and around them. A person can be soft-hearted or hard-hearted. So, ‘have a heart’ is a common phrase that is used regularly when a person is being too hard, too demanding, and too unsympathetic. Moneylenders, bankers, landlords and the like are frequently considered to be heartless, greedy people only concerned with earning a quick profit, and not being sufficiently sympathetic towards people who are having difficulty in meeting their needs. Well, it may be argued that “in business there is no room for sentiments,” but , in other areas of human relationships, sympathy and consideration must be present.

For Christians, compassion is a ‘must-be present quality’. People who are hurting are invariably comforted when compassion is extended; wrong doing is often corrected when a spirit of forgiveness and understanding of pain and sorrow. Compassion is best served where there is the experience of pain and hurt. We see all these qualities in Christ whom today we honour under the title, Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The life story of Jesus as found in the Gospels, is a story of a heart full of compassion. “And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them because they were sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9: 36). How wonderfully he showed his compassion and understanding towards discouraged sinners; towards the sorrowing widow of Nain; towards the children who flocked to him; towards the woman taken in adultery; towards the repentant thief; towards the ashamed Peter, towards lost sheep an towards the Prodigal son. No wonder people listened when he invited them – “Come to me all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Compassion and consideration were also outstanding virtues of Our Blessed Mother. Her sympathetic understanding was a source of strength for Joseph as he grappled with what must have been a most extraordinary relationship; then there was the situation in Bethlehem, no accommodation at a critical moment; and the dangerous flight into Egypt. Her concern for the young couple and their relatives at Cana; her presence at Calvary and with the apostles in the aftermath of Calvary are a few other examples.

As Christians we need to grow compassion. As we observe this Feast and call to mind the strength of God’s love, let us pray that this love may be reflected in our own attitudes through our compassion towards and understanding of people who are hurting. Let us be people who have hearts.

In the book of Deuteronomy 7:6 – 11 we read God’s love for us. “For you are a people, holy to the Lord, your God; the Lord your God. Who has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be His people. His treasured possession. It was not because you were more numerous than any other people, but the Lord chose you because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that He swore to your ancestors; that the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the plague of tyranny and slavery in Egypt. Therefore the Lord your God is a faithful God. Therefore, observe diligently the Commandments, the statues and the ordinances of God.”

Saint John in his first letter reminds us, all God’s children that we are from God, and whoever is from God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 11: 25 -30, relates to us Jesus’ thanksgiving hymn to God: “I thank You Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants for such was Your gracious Will.” Come to me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The highest point of Jesus’ love for us is shown to us by his sufferings and death on the cross. He died to make expiation, (reparation, restitution) for our sins by shedding his blood so that we could be washed of our sins and merit heavenly bliss with eternal life. Who could do it? No human could do it, but only God. Hence God sent His Son Jesus who willingly accepted the challenge of Redemption. Hence he is highly called Redemptor Populis, the savior of mankind.

We are called to reciprocate our love to Jesus only by loving God and one another, not by killing or destroying one another as some do. If we do this the Sacred Heart of Jesus will console us: “Come to me, you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of this world.”

Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolizes his great love for us. Inspite of our repeated transgressions. Jesus knows, that we are weak, fickle, insincere, disobedient, malicious, and even wicked. Every time we break God’s Commandments we are not condemned, we receive God’s love that flows into us through the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the Sacrament of Confession we can obtain true and complete forgiveness of our sins with peace and joy. This is not an encouragement to dabble in sin but it is divine support and strength to reform and transform our sinful life through the mercy and forgiveness of God.

When Jesus appeared to Mary Margret Alacoque, a French Nun, on June 6th, 1675, and said to her: “Margaret, behold the Heart which has loved people so much that it has spared nothing even to exhausting and consuming itself in order to testify it’s love and what do I get in return, ingratitude and ungratefulness.”

God bless!