Today the Catholic Church celebrates the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the Sacred Heart “the chief sign and symbol of that…love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings without exception.” So we are invited this day to appreciate in a deeper way the “love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (as Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians).
The first reading from today’s Mass is a good way to get in touch with that overwhelming love of God manifest through Jesus. We read from the Book of the prophet Hosea,
Thus says the Lord: When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks.
That is the love reflected in the Sacred Heart of Jesus – the love of a parent holding a child lovingly in her arms, surrounding them with bands of love.
At one level we are invited to luxuriate in that love. But as is always the case for us as Christians, the love is not simply shared between me and Christ, but is meant to be spread throughout the whole world. One of the versions for the Opening Prayer for today’s Mass begs, “Teach us to see Christ in the lives we touch, to offer him living worship by love-filled service to our brothers and sisters.” Thus, the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolizes both Jesus love for us and our charge to be that love for the world.