11 June 2021. Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Cycle B-2021. Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9 + Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19 + John 19:31-37

“…but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 19:34).

Passion is all about the pain of loving. The very long reading of the Passion narrative every Passion Sunday can be summarized into two passages about intense love: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16); and “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

The greatest torment a mother could suffer is the thought that the son she loves very much and is trying to keep away from trouble is headed to it anyway. She cajoles, she threatens, maybe she even gets physical, but the harder she tries, the more the son disobeys.

Their relationship gets strained; the son leaves the safety of the home, headed to certain damnation, and all she could do is to blame herself, “Where have I done wrong? I did it out of love!” In the courtroom where the runaway son is sentenced to die for a crime she tried so hard to keep him away from, she wails even louder, “He is too young to die! May I die in his place?”

That torment may be similar to the one that bothered Jesus in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father, why did you send me to this stubborn people?” he could have wailed that night. “Gross are their hearts! My own deserted me, my closest could not even give up one hour of sleep to stand by me! I am troubled now,” he lamented, “yet what should I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour” (Jn 12:27).

Vein-popping anguish, bone-crushing beatings, skin-ripping lashings, spirit-gutting taunting, and back-breaking heaving—who could imagine a more painful serial torture than these? Ah, the pain of unrequited love! If only mankind repented, these pains would have meant nothing.

Jesus’ passion of love is aptly depicted in the image of his Sacred Heart that He revealed to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. His heart expands as his love intensifies. Thorns of sinful mankind, the object of His love, crown it. If the crown of thorns does not loosen up as His heart expands, it cuts and hurts His heart. Jesus’ heart must grow in love to force the thorns to stretch with it, even if doing so cuts His heart deeper.

Like a lighted candle, flame generated by the intensity of His love surmounts the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The flame burns His heart out like it burns a candle out. The heat of loving burns a lover, loving consumes a lover. An image of the cross depicting suffering is imbedded within the flame providing the wick from which the flame burns. Loving and suffering are inseparable.

Loving is dying for a loved one. Who is afraid of dying? Certainly not a lover. That is the passion of Jesus’ unrequited love as He disclosed to St. Margaret, “ Behold this Heart, which has so loved men that it has spared nothing even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself, to prove to them Its love. And in return, I receive from the greater of Me nothing but ingratitude, by the contempt, irreverence, sacrileges, and coldness with which they treat Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what is more painful to Me is that even souls consecrated to Me are acting in this way.” VSS

Picture credit: Top picture, Jesus hands out His Sacred Heart, by Test EverythingBlog.com. Second middle illustration, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary, by Pinterest. Third middle illustration, Sacred Heart, by CorJesusSacratissimum.org. Bottom picture, Jesus and His Sacred Heart, by CatholicFaithPatronSaints.com.