Commentary on the Gospel of
Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
A couple months ago, I attended a morning Mass at the Holy Family Shrine in Gretna, Nebraska. There was a small group who came in during the opening hymn – a boy about three years old, a girl about five years old, and their guardian. (She looked like their grandmother or an older aunt, but who knows?) The boy was howling, and in that little glass chapel, any noise carries! His guardian got him settled down as his older sister quietly swung her feet off the pew. The little boy hugged the woman, rubbed his forehead with his arm, and buried his tear-stained face against her. I wondered if his tears were the result of tripping and knocking his head outside.
After the psalm, he was calm enough to be curious again. The chapel has a tiny fount in the floor at the end of each pew. The water runs under the floor to gather in a pool front of the altar. (Here is a photo.) The little boy tentatively stuck his hand in the little square of water at the end of his pew. He discovered there were rocks in it, just the right size for his toddler hands. He soon busied himself with retrieving rocks from the fount and placing them on the floor. Every time he reached for a new stone, in true toddler fashion, he practically dove in: his whole torso followed the movement of his hand. And every time, he would nearly smack his head on the corner of the pew. But he didn’t see this. He was focused on the rocks.
His guardian spent the rest of Mass deftly moving her hand between the boy’s head and the edge of the pew, shielding him. As I watched this, I thought, “How often does God do that for me? How often do I get myself into the same kind of situation that’s hurt before, but keep on diving in? How many times has God protected me, and I haven’t even noticed?” That day was a good picture of God’s love, to me: constantly caring, giving, and protecting, even though most of the time I don’t return it or don’t even notice. A total gift, undeserved and unconditional. It is this kind of self-giving love that God is, and within which we remain when we are “in God.”