Enter Into His Most Sacred Heart
Friday June 27, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Reading I (Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9) Reading II (Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19)
Gospel (St. John 19:31-37)
In the first reading which we heard today from the Book of the Prophet Hosea, God tells us how it is that He is going to draw us to Himself. God, Who is love, eternal and infinite love, has chosen that the best way for us to be able to understand His love is in a human manner. He says, “It was I Who drew them with human cords, with bands of love.” And so it was in a human manner that God was going to call us. Even though He is divine, He chose to come down to take on our human nature. And in His Sacred Heart the very love of God was radiant, dwelt within and radiated out, so that we would be able to be drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the Cross, as we heard in the Gospel reading, His heart was pierced. It is wide open so that we will be able to enter in. There is nothing that is blocking the way of entrance into the Sacred Heart of Jesus for us now.
In order to enter into that Heart, it must be done in love. It is not something that we try to conquer. It is not something that we can approach with pride or with selfishness, but rather it is something which can only be approached in humility and in the greatest of charity. We must become like the Heart of Jesus in order to be able to be one with that Sacred Heart. Once we have entered within that Heart of Our Lord, then we enter into that mystery of which Saint Paul speaks from the second reading today from his Letter to the Ephesians. He prays that each one of us would know the height and length and depth and breadth, that is, the Holy of Holies. One place where the height and length and depth and breadth were identical was in the Holy of Holies in the sanctuary of the temple, but this is the Holy of Holies of Our Lord. It is Heaven itself to be able to enter into the Sacred Heart. It is the holy place, and that is a place of sanctuary that Our Lord has reserved for those who love Him, that He has wide open for us.
When we look upon Him on the Cross, there is no protection; He is completely vulnerable. His arms are wide open and His heart has been pierced. There is absolutely nothing on Our Lord’s side that will keep us from being able to enter into the sanctuary of His Heart. The only thing that lacks is on our part. If there is something in the way in our own hearts, in our own lives, that keeps us away from Jesus – if we are unwilling to be vulnerable as He is vulnerable, if we are unwilling to love as He loves, or to be humble as He is humble – then what happens is that we stay away. We stay at a distance because we refuse to come near because we are afraid. But Our Lord has removed all cause for fear. He has shown us His love, He has demonstrated it to the end. And it is in a human way that He has shown it to us.
We know that God is love, just pure and simple. But because sin has damaged us so badly, we, in our humanness, tragically keep on saying, “Prove it to me. Show me. I need to see it. I have to have some evidence. I want proof.” Look at the Cross and look at the Sacred Heart, pierced and wide open for you. In fulfillment of the Prophet Zechariah, it will be said of each one of us, “They will look upon him whom they have pierced through.” His Sacred Heart is wide open to us. Do not stay at a distance. Become like the Heart of Jesus and enter into that sanctuary, into the Holy of Holies of the Heart of Our Lord. And there, recognize in a human way the divine love. Recognize there in that human Heart that Jesus received from His mother the very love of God Himself, proven, demonstrated for you, for each and every one of us. He holds nothing back for Himself. He does not protect Himself at all. He leaves Himself completely vulnerable so that anyone who comes to Him He will never reject.
Our task then is to be humble enough, charitable enough, to actually come to Him. Not to look upon Him from a distance, but rather to enter in through the opening in His side into His Sacred Heart which remains open to us so that we can enter not only into the sanctuary but into the very love of God Himself and know the mystery of the love of God in human form.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.