Friday, June 23, 2006

Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Friday following the second Sunday after Pentecost

The reading of the Holy Gospel according to John c.19, 32-37
At that time: The Jews, because it was the parasceve that the bodies might not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, for that was the great sabbath day, besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. 33 But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of him. 37 And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Homily of St. Bonaventure, Bishop. Lessons vii-ix Nocturn iii
Book of the tree of life, num.30
In order that the Church might be taken out of the side of Christ, in his deep sleep on the Cross, and that the Scripture might be fulfilled which saith : They shall look on him whom they pierced : it was divinely ordained that one of the soldiers should pierce his sacred side with a spear, and open it.  Then forthwith there came flowing out blood and water, which was the price of our salvation, pouring forth from its mountain-source, in sooth, from the secret places of his Heart, to give power to the Sacraments of the Church, to bestow the life of grace, and to be as a saving drink of living waters, flowing up to life eternal for those who were already quickened in Christ.  Arise, then, O soul beloved of Christ.  Cease not thy vigilance, place there thy lips, and drink the waters from the fount of salvation.

Of the mystic vine
Because we are now come to the sweet Heart of Jesus, and because it is good for us to be here, let us not too soon turn away therefrom.  O how good and joyful a thing it is to dwell in this Heart.  What a good treasure, what a precious pearl, is thy Heart, O most excellent Jesu, which we have found hidden in the pit which hath been dug in this field, namely, in thy body.  Who would cast away such a pearl?  Nay, rather, for this same I would give all my pearls.  I will sell all my thoughts and affections, and buy the same for myself, turning all my thoughts to the Heart of the good Jesus, and without fail it will support me.  Therefore, o most sweet Jesu, finding this Heart that is thine and mine, I will pray to thee, my God : admit my prayers into the shrine of hearkening : and draw me even more altogether into thy Heart.

For to this end was thy side pierced, that an entry might be open unto us.  To this end was thy Heart wounded, that in it we might be able to dwell secure from alarms from without.  And it was wounded none the less on this account that, because of the visible wound, we may perceive the wound of love which is invisible.  How could this fire of love better shine forth than for him to permit that not only his body, but that even his Heart, should be wounded with the spear?  Who would not love that Heart so wounded?  Who would not, in return, love one who is so loving?  Who would not embrace one so chaste?  Wherefore let us who are in the flesh love in return, as much as we can, him who so loveth, embrace our wounded one, whose hands and feet, side and Heart, have been pierced by wicked husbandmen ; and let us pray that he may deign to bind our hearts, still hard and impenitent, with the chain of his love, and wound them with the dart thereof.

Fragments from "Divine Intimacy" on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus - by Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - O Jesus, grant that I may penetrate the secrets hidden in Your divine Heart

2. Today's Gospel and Epistle lead us to consider the Sacred Heart of Jesus even more directly. The Gospel (Jn 19, 31-27) shows us His Heart pierced with a lance: "One of the soldiers opened His side with a spear," and St. Augustine offers his comment: "The Evangelist says....opened, to show us thereby the door of life was throw open, through which the Sacrament of the Church flow forth." From the pierced Heart of Christ, symbol of the love which immolated Him on the Cross for us, came forth the Sacrament, represented by the water and the Blood flowing from the wound, and it is through these Sacraments that we receive the life of grace. Yes, it is eminently true to say that the Heart of Jesus was opened to bring us into life. Jesus once said, "Narrow is the gate... that leadeth to life" (Mt 7,14); but if we understand this gate to be the wound in His Heart, we can say that no gate could open to us with greater welcome.
St. Paul, in his beautiful Epistle (Eph 3, 8-19), urges us to penetrate further into the Heart to contemplate His "unsearchable riches" and to enter into "the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God." This is the mystery of the infinite, divine love which has gone before us from all eternity and was revealed to us by the Word made flesh; it is the mystery of the love which willed to redeem us and sanctify us in Christ" in whom we have...[free] access to God."
Again Jesus presents Himself as the door which leads to salvation. "I am the door. By Me if any man enter in he shall be saved" (Jn 10,9). This door is His Heart, which, wounded for us, has brought us into life. By love alone can we penetrate this mystery of infinite love, but not any kind of love will suffice. As St. Paul says, we must "be rooted and founded in charity." Only thus shall we be able "to know...the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge, that [we] may be filled unto all the fullness of God."

"....O Most sweet Jesus, I beseech Thee, O My God: receive my prayers in that sanctuary where You are attentive to them and, even more, draw me entirely into Your Heart" (St. Bonaventure).