Commentary on the Gospel of
Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Last Sunday, the Church celebrated the Body and Blood of Jesus. (Corpus Christi Sunday) This Friday the Church celebrates this liturgy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Tomorrow’s liturgy celebrates the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The day after that the Church returns to Ordinary Time. What began way back in mid-February with Ash Wednesday ends with these two heart-feasts completing our Lenten and Easter prayer journey.
The Readings for this liturgy are filled with aspects of parental love and care. Actually, the Second Reading expresses the enthusiasm and excitement of the writer so that you almost hear him take a deep breath so to proclaim such long and complicated thoughts. I suggest reading these lines slowly to experience the intended consolation.
The Gospel has the picturing of a symbolic nature. The two criminals had their legs broken so that, if they were still alive, their legs would not be able to support their bodies. They would slump heavily and so suffocate. They saw that Jesus had already given up His Spirit and so John sees this as fulfilling two different passages from the Hebrew Scriptures. The lance which is thrust upward into the side of Jesus and so through His Lungs and Heart allows blood and water to flow out and onto the earth. Many writers have pondered the intended meaning of this by John the writer. For now, let us receive the finality of His life of love.
I was speaking with a young woman about her future husband’s questions about faith in God. She told me that he couldn’t figure out what faith was about. He is in the field of Science and so knowing is central to further knowing as is the necessity of having evidence and proof.
I asked her if she loved this man and of course she laughed with excitement and joy. As a good Jesuit, I asked her to explain totally what her love is and then what her soon-to-be husband would say. There was a long silence with no laughter.
In preparing persons for the Sacrament of Marriage, I ask each of the persons exactly why they are marrying this other good person. If they have a long list, I begin to doubt the depth of understanding. I smile when they look quietly into each others faces and they experience love rather than explain it. Love is not an idea.
The human Heart of Jesus embarrasses logic and definition. When I ask ‘pre-marriagers’ if they believe they are worthy of their being so loved, ah, more silence and they eventually say that worthiness is not in their vocabulary. Humility and being humbled is the usual response. The Roman soldiers pierced the Heart of Jesus as part of their jobs of which they were worthy. We take our turns, standing in the pool of our own personal humility and look up and accept that His Heart is our “worthy.” His Heart is the explanation. His Heart beat from His mother’s womb until proof would not be needed any longer.