On Friday, June 19, we celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and then on Saturday, June 20, we celebrated the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Feast of the Sacred Heart us always on the Friday after Corpus Christi, and the Feast of the Immaculate Heart is always the next day. For us the heart symbolizes passion, emotion, and love. In ancient Hebrew culture the heart was the center of both emotion and wisdom. Understanding comes from the heart and leads directly to action. The Greatest Commandment in the Law is “to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” To love someone with all of your heart is not only to have an emotional, passionate love for them, but also to love them with wisdom and understanding which leads you to try to actually do good for them.
In the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we’re reminded that our Lord has that kind of love for us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became incarnate by taking on a human nature out of love for us. We see the passionate, emotional love of Jesus when He has pity on the widow who’s just lost her only son, when He heals the lepers, and when He weeps at the death of His friend, Lazarus. We also see His love for us and, more importantly, for His Heavenly Father, in His anger at the dishonor shown to the Temple when He drove out the money changers. Love can be shown not only through acts of kindness and generosity but in righteous anger at injustice and in offering correction. Finally, though, Christ shows the depths of His love for us in offering His life on the Cross. As our Lord said, “Greater love than this has no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
That feast is followed on the very next day by the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Blessed Mother represents the Church and the love that the Church is called to have for Christ. The Blessed Mother is completely devoted to her Son. In the Gospels she is always with Christ, she is always bringing peoples attention to Christ, and she’s always pondering His words in her heart. She is the Immaculate Heart because she was conceived in a state of grace, meaning without original sin, and she never sinned during her life. The Church is also “holy” and without sin because she is the Body of Christ and is filled with the Holy Spirit, but we the members of the Church must still struggle with temptation and sin. We are called to the sort of love that our Blessed Mother has for Christ. We are called to the perfection of faith, even though we know that we won’t get there during this life. However, we must still strive for it. Why did Ferdinand Magellan try to circumnavigate the world even though everyone who’d tried before Him had failed? Why did Edmund Hillary try to climb Mt. Everest when so many people had died trying? Why does mankind keep going back to space, to the moon, or even to other planets? If these things are worth dedicating your life to, then how much more is it worth it to dedicate your life to God?
Fr. Bryan became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 3, 2017. Read his bio here.