(A Reflection and Prayer for Friday, 3 June 2016)
Today is the First Friday of June and also the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Now you might be saying—why are we honoring a part of the body as holy and sacred? The Sacred Heart is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You may have seen a statue or a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (maybe in your home or in your grandparents’ home or in your parish church)—often the picture is of Jesus from the waist up with one hand pointing to or touching his heart which is outside of his clothes and is wounded or pierced and surrounded by a crown of thorns.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a reminder of God’s great love for us—“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son”—and Jesus’ great love for us—“Greater love than this has no person that one lay down one’s life for a friend.” And Jesus did lay down his life for us—for each of us—Scripture telling us that after his death on the cross one of the Roman soldiers pierced his side with a lance, pierced his heart to make sure he was dead, and immediately blood and water flowed out. Jesus gave his last ounce of blood for us. It is that heart so filled with love that we remember and honor on First Fridays and indeed, in a special way, today.
The heart we see depicted in the pictures and statues might look like a Valentine’s Day heart or the cartoon heart that pounds and flutters to depict a budding romance; however, the heart of Jesus is far different from the sentimental, sugary, saccharine sweet heart of commercialism and pop culture. It is a heart of expansiveness, a heart of courage, a heart wounded but still welcoming. It is a heart full of mercy, the mercy that Pope Francis has spoken about over and over again, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. And it is this heart that we are challenged to make our own. Each day we Lasallians pray that Jesus live in our hearts forever—we pray that the heart of Jesus come to life in our hearts, that the heart of Jesus become our heart. Now that is a challenge!!
How expansive, how open is our heart? Do I welcome the stranger, the outcast, the classmate who is different? Or am I closed-hearted, letting in only those like me? Do I allow my heart-strings to be tugged or am I so hard-hearted that I reject anyone or anything that might deeply touch me? I know that many of our Seniors opened their hearts to those served in Christian Service. I know that those who went to Camden or Chicago or Apopka or Blackfeet Reservation or Tennessee opened their hearts to the young people and older alike, those on the margins of our society—the blogs and reflections clearly indicate that. Will I, will you, open our hearts today and allow them to be tugged on or will we close them off—make them hearts of stone, impenetrable, unable to be wounded?
How courageous is our heart? When the lion in the Wizard of Oz sought a heart he was looking for courage. Am I willing to stand up for what I believe? Am I willing to be a leader in my group and put an end to rumors, scandalous talk, bullying, etc.? Or am I weak-hearted and faint-hearted, afraid to say or do anything that might call attention to me? Am I lion-hearted and a brave-heart or am I chicken-hearted and a cowardly heart?
How willing am I to allow my heart to be wounded? A sign that we are alive is that we suffer heartache and even suffer heart-break. If our heart does not ache after a heart-breaking loss in athletic competition or after a poor performance in our school work, then our heart was never in it—it was not important enough. Heart ache measures the strength that we desire something or want something or love something or someone. One need only experience the loss of a close family member through death or the loss of a friend through moving away or the loss of someone we love because our paths move in different directions (as will happen over the next week of so with the Seniors and those of us who have come to care deeply for them)—one need only experience that to know that hearts can break and hearts can ache. Yet, it is in the very woundedness of our hearts that we can become stronger and welcome another dream, another challenge, another person to love. The heart grows stronger when we live through the wounds that inevitably come in life, when we welcome them as part of life, when we welcome them as gift.
So, how is your heart today? Expansive and open, courageous, willing to be wounded for the sake of something or someone you love dearly? Will Jesus find in your heart, in my heart, a resting place today for his Sacred Heart?
Let us pray: Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love. Have mercy on us! Heart of Jesus, source of all life and love. Have mercy on us! Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful. Have mercy on us! Heart of Jesus, make our hearts like yours—full of life and love, holy and pleasing in God’s sight. AMEN.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…Pray for us.
May the Heart of Jesus live in our hearts…Forever.
Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC