Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, provincial superior of the US Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) was the main celebrant and homilist at the feast-day celebration at Sacred Heart Monastery on June 23. His homily:
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 23, 2017
Readings: Dt 7:6-11; Ps 103; 1 John 4: 7-16; Mt 11:25-30
The human heart beats seventy-two times a minute, 4,320 times an hour, 103,680 times a day. It beats almost 38 million times a year. Over 2.6 billion times in the course of an average life.
The human heart is the center of a person, the place from which we make the choices which will affect the world within us and the world around us. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this Solemnity, reminds us that it is in his Sacred Humanity that we find the pattern for becoming fully human ourselves. In His Incarnation, life, death and Resurrection, we receive both the pattern – and the means – to become more like Him.
This Solemnity of the Sacred Heart reminds us of our mission in a Culture, a world which has often forgotten God. If we put our trust and hope in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he will not disappoint; for his Heart still beats with healing and love for the world, for us.
The readings for this Solemnity give us great insight into the importance of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and how we can relate it to our lives.
In the first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses says, “It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the Lord loves you”. These words are not just a reminder of the covenant that the Lord made with Abraham, but a foreshadowing and reflection on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Christ literally lays down his life, sets down his heart for us, the lowly and insignificant people that we are. Why? Because he loves us. He gives us his whole self so that we, in some small way, might experience the love of God more fully. The heart on statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is often exposed to show us that he is “setting his heart” on us, and it burns with his love for us.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus invites all of us who are tired, all of us who suffer illness, depression, or anger; all of us who have problems or difficulties to turn to Him so that he can heal and console us. Jesus tells us that He came to help us carry the weight of everyday life, to free us of our burdens, carrying them himself. If we go to Him with our troubles, with our illnesses, anytime we suffer, he will help us. His Sacred Heart is one that is always open, always ready to love, always ready to heal.
I remember Pope Francis saying in a homily, “it is more difficult to let God love us than to love Him! The best way to love Him in return is to open our hearts and let Him love us.” The First Letter of John makes this clear, “love is of God.” We are reminded to open ourselves to the love of God through the Heart of Christ and give ourselves completely to him as he does to us. He lays his heart open before us as an example of how to love, how to live our lives.
If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. We are not led blindly into a community of faith, but rather we are given a simple rule, to love others as God loves us. By following this commandment we remain one with God. This is the message of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast reminds us that Jesus gave us the ultimate example of love, laying down one’s life for another, and thus he set his heart upon us.
It is often easy to forget the humanity of Christ. After all, he is the Son of God, walked on water, and rose from the dead, and yet he bled for us. When the soldier pierced his side with a lance, out flowed blood and water. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of Jesus’ humanity and the significance of his sacrifice. He suffered, he felt pain, he literally laid down his life and set his heart upon us. It is our turn to pick up what God has given us and share it with the world. Let us open our hearts and share Christ’s love.
Fr. Leo John Dehon, in founding the Priests of the Sacred Heart, was convinced that God’s love can have an impact on our lives and that his grace can affect and move us. This was the bedrock of his appreciation of the Sacred Heart devotion and its message, “Behold this heart that has loved so much.”
Oblation, reparation and a devotion to the Sacred Heart are at the heart of who we are as Priests of the Sacred Heart. These are the fundamental concepts, based in the love found in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, upon which Fr. Leo Dehon built his religious community. These are the concepts upon which we base our lives.
This devotion to the Heart of Jesus helps us see Him in our hearts, our homes and the Eucharist. This devotion inspires us to love, to be compassionate and forgiving, and to reach out to those in need.
He invites us today, on this solemnity, to learn from him, for he is meek and humble of heart. Let us take him up on this generous invitation. Accepting the love God has for us, the love we return to God, the love God has for everyone else, the love we have for those whom God loves. All this love is one Love. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
When Father Dehon died in Brussels on the 12th of August 1925 he stretched out his hand towards a portrait of the Sacred Heart and exclaimed in a clear voice, “For him I lived, for him I die. He is my everything, my life, my death and my eternity”. To his spiritual sons, the Priests of the Sacred Heart (also known as Dehonians in honor of their founder), and to all those who see in Father Dehon a father and a guide for living out the gospel according to the spirituality of the Sacred Heart, he left a written spiritual testament: “I leave you the greatest of all treasures, the Heart of Jesus”.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our heart like your heart.
May each one of us and our province be blessed on this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.