Sacred Heart of Jesus


Seeing Into the Heart of God

Hosea 11:1-9; Is 12; Eph 3:8-19; Jn 19:31-37)


Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion rooted in John’s Gospel, where blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side at his crucifixion. Gazing at the pierced heart of Jesus, we marvel at his boundless love that led him to offer himself on the cross for us.

Two significant things happened at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross: First, the heavy curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom, and second, blood and water flowed from Jesus’s side as he hung on the cross.

The heavy curtain in the temple was there to keep people out of the Holy of Holies, where God was believed to dwell. Only the high priest could enter in once a year, on the feast of Yom Kippur or the day of atonement, after he had purified himself enough.

The high priest would then place his hands on a goat, symbolically placing all the sins of the people on that goat, put a crown of thorns on its head, drape it with a purple cloth, and then it would be driven out into the desert to perish, supposedly carrying all the sins of the people with it.

While this cultic ritual would leave the people feeling cleansed and holier for a while, we know that nothing really changed – the sins were not really taken away, and people’s behaviour would basically stay the same.

But what a powerful presaging of the passion and death of Jesus, the true lamb of God, mocked with a purple cloak and crowned with thorns, whose death on the cross would really take away the sins of the world, and impart true forgiveness and freedom on those who believed, genuinely repent and come to him for forgiveness and healing.

The fact that the heavy curtain was torn from top to bottom signifies that now, with the death of Jesus, there is no more separation from God and humanity. Gazing at Jesus’ selfless death on the cross, we can see right into the heart of God, and what we see is humility, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love, and total non-violence. Now we know who our God truly is, and what our God is like – unconditional love.

The second thing that happened is that blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side. As good Catholics, we are quick to say that symbolizes the sacraments of initiation – baptism and the Eucharist.  That is correct, of course, but there are more levels of meaning in that striking reality. First, that blood and water symbolize the new life that Jesus can give us, as of Pentecost, and that is the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But there is an additional level of meaning. That blood and water also symbolizes the new creation that Jesus was bringing into the world.

Just as a woman breaks water and sheds blood as she brings a child into the world, so too that action symbolizes the new creation that Jesus was birthing into the world through his own labor pains of the passion and death he endured to reveal to us the depths of the Father’s love for us.

The Word Among Us states that although devotion to the wounded heart of Jesus existed as early as the twelfth century, it was in 1677 that a young Visitation nun, Margaret Mary of Alacoque, experienced a vision of Jesus and his Sacred Heart. “I could plainly see his heart,” she wrote, pierced and bleeding, yet there were flames, too, coming from it and a crown of thorns around it. He told me to behold his heart which so loved humanity Then he seemed to take my very heart from me and place it there in his heart. In return, he gave me back part of his flaming heart.”

This solemnity invites us to devote ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus today. When we contemplate his Sacred Heart, we can come in touch with the powerful consuming love that Jesus has for us. We can bring him our burdens and worries, and he can give us insight into how handled them. Seeing how much he suffered for us can soften our hearts and open us to the grace to turn away from sins that we can’t seem to overcome. When we look upon his Sacred Heart and confess our failures to love, he gives us his own heart of love for our brothers and sisters.

This solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a celebration of that unconditional love of God for God’s people. The heart of Jesus is adored as a symbol of his threefold love: human, spiritual and divine. By the sixteenth century the image of Jesus’ heart, pierced by a lance and surrounded by a crown of thorns, was gaining in popularity, largely due to its promotion by the Franciscan and Jesuit orders.

In a series of visions, Jesus asked Margaret Mary to help establish a special feast day devoted to his heart. She spoke of Jesus’ Sacred Heart as “an abyss of love to meet our every need.” In 1856, Pope Pius IX established this day – the Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi – as a feast for the universal church. Today, the image of the Sacred Heart in the home has become a sign that the love of Jesus dwells in that family. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Today’s feast is an invitation as much as it is a commemoration. Jesus is inviting us to enter into his heart.  He is inviting us to lose ourselves in his love and discover the power of that love to heal our hurts, enliven our hopes, and protect us from fear. He is inviting us to discover all over again how strong his love is for us. Nothing can ever quench it – not even our sins or unworthiness.

So, take up the invitation today. Fix your eyes on Jesus’ heart. Let his love flow over you and lift you up to heaven, and live out that love through an intimate relationship with him and agape love for all others.


Updated: June 7, 2024 — 3:28 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie OMI © 2017 Frontier Theme