I remember when I was growing up, often visiting my dear grandmother. She and I were best friends in so many ways. I remember when we visited that she had a beautiful framed picture in the living room, given a spot of honor where everyone could see it, and that picture was of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Whenever I think of the Sacred Heart, I remember grandma, whose name was Margaret Mary, named after the saint who promoted veneration of the Sacred Heart in the first place.
And so, today we celebrate, with incredible gratitude, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through his most Sacred Heart, the love of God is made manifest among us. This love is a pervasive love that burns in our hearts and changes our lives and leads us back to the God who made us for himself. This love is irresistible if we give ourselves over to it. It is a love that pursues us and a love that can go far beyond whatever distance we have fallen from grace. It is a love that, as Hosea tells us in the first reading, is rich in mercy, and, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading, dwells in our hearts through faith. The love of God pours forth from the heart of Christ just as the water and blood poured forth from his side as he hung dead on the cross. Death could not stop the outpouring of grace that he came to bring.
God, of course is love, and because we were made to love him, we have some of that love that is God within our own imperfect, sometimes stony hearts, that love that helps us to reach beyond ourselves and reach out in our need.
Three years ago, when I first came to St. Raphael, the first daily Mass that I celebrated with you was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And so it only seems appropriate, and yes, a little sad, that my last daily Mass with you is this same feast day. It’s appropriate because all of you have helped me to come to know Christ’s love in so many beautiful ways. In our worshipping together, and also in our serving together, we have loved one another and loved others in Christ’s name. Celebrating Mass with you on these weekdays has been a labor of love for me, because you all come every day ready to celebrate and listen and pray and take the grace with you into your service in the day ahead. What a great gift you have been to me; I will never forget that.
St. Paul prays that we would be filled with the fullness of God. May we all be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ, so that we can pour that love forth onto a world which longs to be soaked in that love. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on all of us.