Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-16; Romans 5:5b-11; Luke 15:3-7
Today’s solemnity presents us with the image of the Sacred Heart and that of the Good Shepherd. In the former we are given an insight into the nature and extent of God’s love while in the latter we are shown the lengths to which that love will go in order to save us from ourselves. For as amazing and unbelievable as God’s love for us may be, it would be of little benefit if the Sacred Heart were not contained within the person of the Good Shepherd. Conversely, the Good Shepherd would be less likely to abandon the ninety-nine sheep on the hillside and go in search of the single lost sheep unless he was possessed by a Sacred Heart willing to be pierced and torn in the effort to find that lost sheep.
In this we are given to see that God’s love for us is not simply some emotional state, some feeling or some supremely positive regard for us; instead, it is a love that acts and actively reaches us. It reached out to us right at the outset when our first parents had hidden themselves from his sight in fear after eating of the forbidden tree and God came in search of them in the garden. And across the centuries and millennia that love has continued to reach out to fallen and estranged humanity, culminating in the sending of Love’s Only Son in a flesh like ours.
And we who are the undeserving recipients of this selfsame love are called today to imitate that love and to love as he has loved us. And just as faith without works is dead, so our love for God is dead if it doesn’t reach out in love to those around us. For, as Saint John reminds us, he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. Through the mercy of the Lord that visits us like the dawn from on high, may we be given an ever deeper share in the love residing in and manifest through the Sacred Heart of Jesus so that this love may not remain in our hearts but pour forth in love and solicitude for all our brothers and sisters.