Friday, May 30, 2008
Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (A)
Readings: Deuteronomy 7:6-11; Psalms 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 10; 1 John 4:7-16; Matthew 11:25-30
Picture: CC Phil Roman
What are we celebrating today? What is this feast all about? Perhaps we might begin with a story.
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a kingdom ruled by a king and his son. They were both very kindhearted and they loved each other very much. In fact, their love for each other was so strong and so powerful that even a drop of this love, flowing out from their hearts, could make the trees grow and the flowers bloom. Living in the warm glow of this love, both father and son had everything that they needed and were very happy. Except for one thing.
Their kingdom was facing a serious problem. The dogs in the kingdom had become very cruel and fierce. For some time now, they had been attacking the other animals, bullying the weaker ones, and even fighting among themselves and killing each other. This made the king and his son very sad. They thought of sending some soldiers to capture all the dogs and have them thrown in jail. But although that would stop the violence it wouldn’t help the dogs very much. You see there was a reason why they were acting in this way. Some enemy had cast a magic spell on them, changing their hearts into stone. There was only one cure for this curse. And that was the love between the king and his son. Only that love had the power to melt the dogs’ hearts, changing them back into flesh. But how were they to get close enough to the dogs to give them the medicine?
Together, the king and his son decided that the son should leave the palace and live among the dogs for a time to see if a solution could be found. So that was what he did. But every time the dogs saw the son approaching, they would run away from him. So, finally, using the only power he had, the power of love, the son transformed himself into a dog. He then chose the smallest and weakest dog he could find and made friends with it. Through their friendship the son hoped to find out what the life of a dog was really like so that he could help them. He began to talk to his new friend about his father and how the great love between them had the power to save all dogs from their hardness of heart. The son’s new friend then introduced him to other dogs, so that he could share the good news with them too. Some accepted his message and began to follow him. But others became angry with him for trying to change things.
One day, some of these angry dogs got together and decided to punish the son’s friend for introducing the son to the other dogs. Seeing this, the son tried to reason with them. But they would not listen. They attacked the son instead, and killed him. Not only that, but they also cruelly tore out his heart and left it, beside his body, by the side of the road, as a lesson to the other dogs. The followers of the son, who had earlier run away in fear, were very sad when we they saw what had happened. They were afraid to move the body, so they simply sat around it, looking at it with tear-filled eyes. They stayed there for two whole days. And by the night of the second day, they were so tired that all fell asleep.
Then suddenly, as the sun was rising on the morning of the third day, they awoke to find the son standing before them, alive and well. And they were all amazed. The son then told them how the love between his father and him was so powerful that it had even raised him from the dead. As they listened in wonder, the dogs became aware of a strange sensation in their bodies. It felt like their hearts were burning within them, giving them a strength that they hadn’t experienced before. And they did not understand what was happening until the son explained it to them. As they had been sitting around his lifeless body, and his torn and tattered heart that had laid beside it, the love that was within that heart had seeped into their bodies, changing their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh once more. They were now cured.
Having completed his mission, the son turned to leave. But before leaving he told his friends that they didn’t have to be sad or afraid, because the power of his love would remain in them. He also told them that they had to use this power to do two things. First, they had to guard their own hearts from ever being turned into stone again. Second, they had to share this power with those whose hearts were still hardened. In order to do all this, the son shared with them a secret. Although he was leaving to go back to his father, his friends could continue to feel his presence every time they came together to tell the story of how he had saved them. Every time they remembered, especially, the sight of his broken heart, they would once again find their own hearts burning with energy, the energy of love. And so, that was what they did.
And this is also what we are doing today. Like those dogs in the story, we are gathered to remember how our King loved us so much that he sent us his only Son. We remember how, this same Son chose to make friends with the weakest among us, how he died for us, and how he had his heart pierced by a soldier’s lance as he hung lifeless on the cross. Especially today, we remember the sight of the heart of the Son, the Sacred Heart, because to remember it is to remember him and what he did for us. And remembering him, we enjoy once again the warmth of his presence. We allow his love to flow into us and among us. We experience it softening our hearts again, giving us the energy to share this same love among ourselves and with others.
This is what we are celebrating today. This is the powerful meaning of our feast.
Are our hearts burning within us yet?
Posted by Fr Chris at 10:23 am