A burning love for each of us - Feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus - Sacred Heart School 2016

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > A burning love for each of us - Feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus - Sacred Heart School 2016


My dear students, have you noticed that many Catholic Churches have two side altars. On these side altars are usually two statues: one of our Lady and the other of our Lord. However the one of our Lord is quite particular.

Let us look at this statue for a moment. The image of our Lord has his heart exposed. With one hand he is pointing to his heart. This statue is the traditional statue of the Sacred Heart.

Where did this image come from? It is unusual. 

The image of Jesus linked to the apparitions of the Lord to a young nun in a town in the centre of France called Paray-le-Monial. I have been there some five times. It is one of my favourite places of pilgrimage. The nun’s name was Sr Margaret Mary Alacoque. She lived from 1647 – 1690.

In the convent chapel Sr Margaret Mary stayed back after evening prayers for some time of personal prayer and experienced the first of a series of apparitions beginning on December 27th, 1673 (Feast of St. John).

The Lord appeared to him much as this statue depicts. His heart was visible as we see it today. She was later asked to draw what she saw and then supervised a local artist to draw the image.

Notice some features. What is the first thing you see?
A heart surrounded with thorns? What is this a reference to?

You can see that the heart is pierced. Again this refers to what happened at Calvary.

Then what do you see? A flame above the heart. This is the fire of love. Around the heart are rays of light.
Then the cross surmounting it

What does all this mean? This is the heart that went to calvary. This is the heart that loved so much that it was prepared to suffer for us. 

Listen to part of what the Lord said in the first vision,
My divine heart is so impassioned with love for men, and for you in particular, that being unable any longer to contain within itself the flames of its burning charity, it must spread them abroad by your means and manifest itself to others in order to enrich them with the precious treasures that I reveal to you, and that contain graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition.

She experienced several more visions during which the Lord asked that the image of the Sacred Heart be prepared. Then in the fourth vision Jesus asked for a special feast in honour of the Sacred Heart. Showing her his Heart, he said,
Behold this heart which has loved men so much that it has spared nothing but has utterly consumed and exhausted itself in order to show them its love, And for reward I receive from most of them nothing but ingratitude, through irreverence and blasphemy, the coldness and contempt, which they show towards me in this Sacrament of love. But it hurts me still more that hearts consecrated to me should treat me so.

This feast is the result of the plea of the Lord to St Margaret Mary. It is a feast which calls us to discover the depth of the love of the Lord for each of us.

This feast reflects what the Scriptures reveal to us about the nature of God. It is no better expressed than in the second reading where St John simply and profoundly declares: “God is love”. Love is the very nature of God.

The apparitions of the Lord declared that this love was a fire in the heart of Jesus. Jesus has a burning love for humanity. We can see this so evidently during his public ministry – Jesus went about doing good particularly to the poor and suffering. However, these apparitions also revealed that this love longs to be received and responded to. It not only exists but longs to touch people’s lives. The Lord wants people to experience this love so that they may receive it and allow this love to transform their lives.

Thus we see in the Gospel the Lord saying, “Come to me”. Come to me all who are burdened. Let my love refresh your soul. This cry of the Lord is a cry to those who are suffering and burdened: do not hesitate, come to me. Do not try to carry your burdens by yourself. Come to me.

There is another occasion when the Lord says similar words. It is found in John 7, 37-38. On the final day of the Festival of Tabernacles the Lord cried out in the temple precinct: “All you who are thirsty come to me”. Again the Lord is conscious of the aridity in people’s lives and he urges those who are experiencing this thirst to come to him.

This is the love in the heart of Christ crying out: “Come to me”, because he wants to bring his love into our lives.

My dear student the Lord is calling out to you: “Come to me”. Hear him all to you. And come to him. The Lord has a love that is burning in his heart for each of us.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Thursday, 2 June 2016