Feast of The Sacred Heart of Jesus (Year C).
Ezekiel 34: 11-16 follows God’s indictment of Israel’s rulers: “Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?... You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bound up the injured, brought back the strayed, sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd” (34:2-6).
So God himself will be their Shepherd. The Responsorial Psalm proclaims: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want” (Psalm 23). In today’s world he will “search” for his sheep and “seek out the lost” to “look after them and tend them.” He will “rescue” them, “bring them out” of the culture that misleads them ; “bring them back” from of all the false directions they have taken and “bring them into” the Church that is their “own land.”
He will “gather” them together to “feed” them with Eucharist on the “mountain heights” of transcendent mystery, by the “watercourses” of two thousand years of Christian thought, in the “inhabited parts of the land” peopled by Saints and martyrs. He will “bind up” those “injured” by bad teaching and bad example and “strengthen the weak” who never grew to maturity in the faith. He himself will “give them rest” in the experienced peace of their return.
In choosing this reading for the feast of the Sacred Heart, the Church is suggesting that Jesus expressed all of this in the image of his heart that he revealed in vision to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque from 1673 to 1675 in the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial, France. Go back and reflect on each of its details as you contemplate his heart. Jesus is saying to all who feel abandoned and deprived of the help they need, “Come to me, look at my heart, contemplate my love, and I will give you rest” (see Matthew 11:28).
Both Luke 15: 3-7 and Romans 5: 5-11 present Jesus as the Good Shepherd, with the focus on his mercy and on his forgiving, unrelenting “steadfast love.” Jesus is like the shepherd who “having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, leaves the ninety-nine in the wilderness and goes after the one that is lost until he finds it.” In Jesus “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”
In modern times devotion to Christ’s heart has received a new focus in devotion to his Divine Mercy, celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. Beneath the image revealed to St. Faustina in 1931 are the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.” So we hope in his mercy with a hope that is an interior assurance and experience of grace: “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” In contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus we need to be aware of what we feel and know in our own hearts.
Initiative: Contemplate Christ’s heart — and be aware of what he is saying to you in your own heart.