Reflection on the Feast of the Sacred Heart

Written on: June 12, 2015

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the patronal feast of our congregation, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.

Learn from the heart of our loving God… love, tender concern and compassion.” 

St. Marguerite d’Youville

This quote from St. Marguerite expresses well the themes of this day:

  • love: endearment, passion, devotion to the point of worship;
  • tenderness: sensitivity, kindness, rawness to the point of bruising;
  • compassion:  sympathy, empathy to the point of aching with another;

This feast of God’s love means more than a superficial kind of relating to others and God.  Living with a heart of love is a challenge and a joy.  And it can be painful and ecstatic!  Full-hearted and full-throated ardor and passion is the invitation to us today.

The scripture for today mirrors these similar themes:

  • In the reading from Hosea, we hear God tenderly caring for Israel as one might look after a child, loving, teaching, disciplining and educating, even when–the child has wandered away or been disrespectful.  One of the Eucharistic Prayers for Liturgy says it well: “When we were lost, God loved us more than ever.”
  •  In the reading from Ephesians, we listen to Paul’s beautiful prayer to God the Father, asking for strength for us–for our inner selves–“that rooted and grounded in love” we may come to know the love of Christ which is beyond our human knowing, filling us with the completeness of God.
  •  In the Gospel from John, we see and feel tenderness in the midst of horror.  The guard not breaking Jesus legs, the lance breaking open Jesus’ side and Jesus in return, gifting us with the power of blood and water, his gracious fountain of salvation.

The message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a message of overwhelming compassion for those who suffer—the poor, the sick, the maligned, and the rejected.  It is a call to grow our hearts into hearts of love:

  • by giving and receiving love;
  • by being willing to feel with and act for those who have no one to help them;
  • by caring for others as the precious treasures they are;
  • by bringing hope and joy everywhere we are, not just once but over and over again;
  • by extending forgiveness and allowing healing to begin.

As we anticipate our up-coming move we feel a mix of emotions: sadness in leaving this lovely worship space and property; excitement in looking forward to the “new” that awaits us; fear about settling into a new space and community that won’t feel like home right away; gratitude to so many for helping us and loving us for so many years;

Transitions are not always easy or smooth but they often offer new opportunities and learnings.  My Mother was a great one for quotes.  She often said to us, “In refusing to take a risk you are choosing not to grow.”  So I’d have to say to my Mom today, “Well we Grey Nuns are choosing to take a risk and we are choosing to grow, deeper, stronger, more loving and more fervent.”

I saw earlier this week that the theme of Pope Francis’ visit to the USA is “Love Is Our Mission.”  Maybe he was channeling this lovely feast as he is looking at this history making trip.

Let us join our hearts to his and to each other as we continue to keep “Love as Our Mission”.  It has been our mission since 1921 and it will continue to be our mission as we move into new residences.  God is with us and love is God’s message to us this day.  Let us pray together:

Heart of Jesus, Fount of life and holiness, full of goodness and love, in you are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, you are patient and rich in mercy. Teach us to be your compassion for our needy world and for each other.  Amen

Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby, GNSH is a Spiritual Director and member of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart Leadership Team.


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