Sacred Heart of Jesus, 24 June, 2022: Ezekiel 14:11-16; Romans 5:5b-14; Luke 15:3-7
The heart is a potent symbol in the Scriptures and, far deeper than the sentimental imagery of advertising or greeting cards, is the gateway to deep communion with God. It is an image at the boundary between the contingent and the Divine, the physical and the spiritual.
The heart is the “core” of my being, a center and a centering force. It is an apt analogy for the decisive power of will which propels us through life, moving us to our goals. We might call someone faint-hearted or soft-hearted but would never describe anyone as faint-minded or soft-minded; a hard-hearted person is very different from a hard-minded person. We as much intuit as understand what we mean by the heart, indicating not a functioning organ but an entire personality.
When our Mass readings for today put the accent on love, it is not a self-centered sense of well-being or the effervescence of infatuation that is evoked. It is the self-sacrificing devotion of the conscientious shepherd who doesn’t count the inconvenience and risk of searching for the lost sheep. It is love transforming the will, a steady commitment.
This shepherd is no impetuous, swashbuckling romantic flaunting his beau geste. He’s business-like; having devotedly observed his animals and their habits, familiar with the terrain of the pastures, alert to the fresh tracks and other clues, and moved by his core responsibilities, he retraces his steps, confident in his expertise to find the lamb who has gone astray. This devotion originates from his deepest center and remains concentrated on his goal, which is the good of the lost sheep, not his own comfort or convenience.
It is that kind of love we celebrate today. It is that capacity that Jesus presumes we all possess when he says, What man among you…would not…leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost one until he finds it? He perceives this innate response in each of us.
But do I believe that of myself? If I don’t think that’s what is in my heart, have I gone deep enough? Have I yet consulted my Heart of hearts?
Wouldn’t the Heart of Jesus be my Heart of hearts?