Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – Matthew 11:25-30
The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus goes back to the 11th century and presents the love of God symbolised by the heart of Jesus. This feast was first celebrated liturgically in France in 1670 as a consequence of the revelations to St Mary Margaret Alacoque.
In 1856, Pope Pius IX established the feast and added an octave which was later dropped during the 1955 liturgical reforms of the Church. Since 2002, this feast has also been celebrated as a day of prayer for the sanctification of priests, and in 2009 the ‘year of the priesthood’ began.
The heart is traditionally accepted as the seat of love. In celebrating Jesus’ Sacred Heart, we are celebrating the great love that Jesus had; a love that He received from His Father and for which He gave thanks for. It is this love that Jesus shares with us and willing walks to the cross out of love for us.
What is it that God revealed in the heart of Jesus? The heart of Jesus reveals a compassionate Saviour. The etymology of this word ‘compassion’ helps us understand the heart of Jesus. It comes from the Latin word ‘compassionem’, meaning ‘to suffer together’.
In the Gospel of today, Our Lord says, “come to me all you who labour and are heavy burdened.” Jesus directed His call to those who were burdened. He called those who sensed they must come to Him to relieve their need instead of living in self-sufficiency. But Jesus also showed His authority when He says, “come unto ME”. This invitation is unthinkable from the mouth of anyone else but God, and woe to the men who call people to themselves instead of to Jesus!
His invitation is not to some, it is to all. He does not set terms when he says, “come.” Come is an invitation but as he will also tell us, that the invitation needs a response that falls in line with such a loving invitation and it involves a wedding gown appropriate to the invitation. While the call is to all, it is a specific call to transformation.
Jesus also made a wonderful offer, inviting us to take “my yoke upon you and learn from Me.” We must come as disciples willing to learn, willing to be guided by His yoke and not merely to receive something.
Today, on this feast day, Jesus reveals His nature when He describes Himself as gentle and lowly of heart. It is His servant’s heart, displayed throughout His ministry that made him qualified to be the one who bears our burdens.
Finally, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an invitation not merely to adore His heart, but to live the revelation of a compassionate God.