Introduction: this Year the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on the 19th of June 2022 and the Gospel given for that day is Luke 15:3-7, “the Lost sheep”. Since we don’t find a text in the scriptures that speaks specifically of the image of Sacred Heart, we can only find texts that expresses its meaning in every page which is the symbol of God’s incarnate love, a love of a good shepherd, made tangible by the Incarnation of Jesus.
1. Read: read the text of Luke 15:3-7 slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
2. Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
3. Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
4. Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Do not say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
5. Take now the word, sentence, or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word leads you to action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: No long ago we celebrated Holy Week the passion, death, and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. These celebrations proved what Jesus told his disciples that “the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep (Jn 10:11) and that he does it “as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:28). He has given up his life for all out of love, love that comes from his pierce heart which is the source of God’s love for us. The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us to reflect on the humanness of Jesus as the incarnate Son of God who brought and showed to all humanity the love that springs from the Heart of his Father.
Central Message: “Who among you…losing one of them…will not seek the lost one till he finds it?”. “Celebrate with me, for I have found my lost sheep! There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine decent people who have no need of repentance”
a) “Will seek the lost one till he finds it”. The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus this year will make emphasis on the love of the good shepherd who is ready to even bleed to rescue his lost sheep. This is God who became man in the person of Jesus who loves humanity and who has no regrets to have created them, because he loves them. In the book of Deuteronomy, we find the remarkable words of Moses spoken to his people: “if God set his heart on you and chose you… it was because you were the least peoples. It was for love of you”(cfr. Dt 7:6-11). His words are not only the reminder of God’s covenant made with Abraham but a reflection of Jesus death on the Cross who laid down his life for us insignificant ones. His death was the proof of how much he loved us “one can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends” (Jn 15:13). Through his death then, he brought the sinner, the lost sheep to himself, he rescued them and brought them to the heart of the Father. The repentant thief who was crucified next to Jesus on the Cross said to him, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”, and Jesus replied “I promise you today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:42-43). Sinners then are at the heart of Jesus, and up to now his heart keeps beating for them because he Loves them, but he wants them to respond to his love in the same way repenting and come back to him “I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:32). Notice then that every sin that we commit his heart is wounded and bleeding because his love for us overflows from his heart. Therefore, this feast day reminds us that Jesus gave us the ultimate example of love, to lay down one’s life for another.
b) “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner” than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance”. This text teaches us more about the heart of God than a whole library full of theological thesis. He has a big heart who cares about each one of us, even if we take the wrong turns and go astray, he still loves us deeply and will not rest until he finds us. When we hear the voice of his Son calling us and we answer in return amending and correcting our way of life, there will be a great rejoice in the halls heaven and the first one to rejoice for our return is God. How assuring are these words of Jesus, he really is a good shepherd rejoicing for the one he rescues and brings it near to his heart as it is well described in the book of Isiah “the shepherd gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart (Is 40:11). He wants our heart to beat at one with his and make it similar so that we can live in his compassionate love. Therefore, we believe and take for certain that a sinner who repents and returns to God causes great rejoice in heaven and in the heart of God. God makes a feast for us when we astray and lost his way but found again to live in his love which never left us. The sacrament of reconciliation is a home coming, it’s a celebration of God’s welcoming our return, giving us his embrace of his loving mercy.
Some questions for our reflexion:
1. How would you like to consider yourself a sinner, or a righteous person?
2. How was your experience of turning away from God?
3. How was your experience returning to God’s love?
4. Does our heart beat at one with the Heart of Jesus?