Coming to Know the Heart of Jesus
by Rev. Jeb Donelan
This Sunday we celebrate what is called Palm Sunday which is often remembered because of the big crowds, the processions
and all the beautiful Palm artwork! However amongst all the fun and festivities of this day there is perhaps a more important element that we often overlook on this day which is the reading of the Passion of Our Lord from the Gospel. Often it seems that reading the whole Passion at once is perhaps a bit of information overload, and we easily (and understandably so) lose focus on the readings because of so much distressing information at once.
I would like to make two suggestions this year for an enhanced and more personal encounter with Jesus on this Palm Sunday and during this Holy Week (and perhaps for the whole year). First take some time to read a small section of the Passion account (this year we use Lk 22:14-23:56, also try Mt 26:14-27:66; Mk 14:1-15:47 or Jn 18:1-19:42) and then just ponder one scene that catches your attention. Second, I think it is important to come to see the Sacred Heart of Jesus shining in these tremendous acts of love where he is humiliated, tortured and killed, that while perhaps difficult to fathom these acts express a profound love.
The love of God is something we speak often about in our faith but is perhaps one of the hardest truths to grasp. In my walk with the Lord, I have found this to be one of the most consoling realities at times and also to be one of the most difficult to believe truth at other times. That is why I propose in particular a renewed love for Jesus’ Passion and a renewed focus on his Sacred Heart. God’s love is constant and unwavering and yet tender and humble. In fact, it seems that God is constantly bringing the reality of his love to us in new ways such as the devotion of the Sacred Heart.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart as we know it today started in a small town of France called Paray le Monial. In Paray le Monial, Sr. Margaret Mary received the image of Jesus’ Sacred and Passionate Heart and had a painting of it made. This humble devotion that started with one religious Sister has spread throughout the whole world. However, what I really would like us to focus on is the image itself. There are three distinctive features to the image that are important to focus on. First, we should see the cross on top and crown of thorns surrounding the heart, these two elements of Christ suffering remind us that the greatest act of God’s love is on his cross, dying for all humanity. Second, we see the image of a flame above the heart to remind us that God’s love is not apathetic but is a love freely given and burning ardently for all mankind. Finally, the heart is always projected outside of Jesus so that perhaps we can see it but also to remind us that Jesus offers his heart to all. This image of the Sacred Heart sums up well the reality of the suffering and death of Jesus and the great love of Jesus coming from those events and can be a great reminder of God’s love for us. I pray that we all my find the heart of Jesus and the love of God the Father in these coming days.